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Aquarius migrants disembark in Malta

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Aquarius migrants disembark in Malta

Migrants arrive on a patrol boat after being transferred from Aquarius
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REUTERS
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Fifty-eight migrants onboard the rescue ship Aquarius have been allowed to disembark in Malta after iniitally being barred entry.

After negotiations between French President Emannuel Macron and Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Valetta agreed to accept the migrants on condition they will be transferred to other countries.

The migrants - who come from Libya, Palestine, Syria, Pakistan and Somalia - are expected to be taken in by Portugal, Spain, France and Germany.

The Aquarius - which is operated by humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières - has been at the centre of an ongoing political row about migrants attempting to reach Europe from Libya. Italy has refused to allow the ship to dock, saying it helps people smugglers and encourages migrants to make the risky journey across the Mediterranean. Spain and Malta have also previously barred Aquarius from entry.

Last week, Panama followed Gibraltar in stripping the vessel of its registration - meaning the rescue ship must soon return to port to get its papers in order.

Médecins Sans Frontières said in a tweet: "No search & rescue vessels currently in the area. No witnesses. People fleeing Libya will continue to die.”