Aug. 15 (UPI) -- A ship carrying nearly 150 migrants docked in Malta after a five-day dispute between European Union nations over where migrants could disembark.
The vessel, Aquarius, arrived Wednesday at the Maltese harbor of Valletta. The ship had been at the center of a five-day dispute between EU countries on where migrants should disembark, before the EU's smallest country allowed it to dock. As it was adrift between Italy and Malta, Italy denied port entry. Malta also initially refused, but later agreed to allow entry.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tweeted Tuesday that he would give permission for the Aquarius "to enter its ports, despite having no legal obligation to do so."
"The Armed Forces of Malta will assist disembarkation," Malta's government said in a statement. "Health authorities, the Immigration Police, the Civil Protection Department, the Agency for Welfare of Asylum Seekers, Transport Malta and port authorities are prepared to receive the 141 immigrants reported on board of the MV Aquarius."
After medical clearance, the process to distribute the migrants among five other EU countries, including France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain, will be initiated, Malta said.
The ship, run by humanitarian groups SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders, rescued 141 migrants Friday from international waters off the coast of Libya after the migrants' two wooden boats capsized. The Libyan government helped in the rescue, but didn't offer the ship a safe place to dock.
Of the migrants on board, 67 are unaccompanied minors and more than a third are from Eritrea or Somalia, El Pais reported.