It is a happy ending after a harrowing ordeal for a boatload of desperate Africans. Rescued from their rickety craft by Spanish fishermen, the 51 migrants are now preparing to begin new lives in several European countries. They were picked up off the Maltese coast on July 14 but remained stranded on the fishing boat during days of diplomatic negotiations until Valetta finally agreed to let the vessel dock.
The fishermen who saved them are now being hailed as heroes. Madrid says it will award them a medal of merit. “We did what anyone with a little heart or feelings would have done. We weren’t going to let them die,” said one of the crew. “We are going to complete our quotas then leisurely return to Spain, with our heads held high, in view of what we have done,” added another. The migrants, most of them Eritreans who said they were fleeing the danger of war, will be largely divided among Spain, Malta, Italy and Andorra.