France agrees to take in some stranded Lifeline rescue ship migrants

French president Emmanuel Macron said France would take a 'few dozen of the migrants as he criticised the German NGO running the ship.

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Six EU countries have agreed to take in over 200 migrants stranded on a rescue ship off Malta's coast, French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday, after days of bickering between member states over their fate, reports FRANCE 24.

Each of the member states, which include France, Italy and Portugal, will take "a few dozen individuals" of the 233 migrants on board the Lifeline vessel, Macron said in Rome after talks with Pope Francis.

However, Macron also criticised the German NGO running the ship for contravening "all the rules" by coming to the migrants' rescue when the Libyan coastguard was already intervening. "We cannot permanently accept this situation," he said. "In the end we are playing into the hands of smugglers by reducing the risks of the journey."

Macron's comments came after Malta said it would only allow the migrants to land if fellow European Union countries took their quota. The vessel's fate has hung in the balance since last week as bloc members remained at loggerheads over how to handle the influx of people trying to reach the continent.

The ship had rescued the migrants, including children and pregnant women, on Thursday but Malta and Italy initially refused to take them in.

However, Valletta agreed Tuesday to let the ship dock once other EU states confirmed they would help. But Malta also warned it would launch an investigation and possibly take action against the Lifeline once it entered Maltese waters.

The Lifeline NGO meanwhile said it had received a message from Malta at 6:00 pm local time (1600 GMT) on Tuesday still banning it from entering "territorial waters". Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini quickly hailed the news that a second migrant ship he had turned away would be taken in elsewhere.