France said Tuesday that “a European solution seems to be emerging” for the humanitarian ship Lifeline, stranded at sea with 234 migrants on board, and it may be allowed to dock in Malta.
“As I speak, a European solution seems to be emerging: (it) would be a docking in Malta,” French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told RTL radio.
The German NGO ship Lifeline rescued the migrants, including children and pregnant women, on Thursday but the vessel has been stranded in the Mediterranean after Malta and Italy refused to accept it.
The decision by the two countries to stop allowing migrant rescue vessels to dock has plunged Europe into a political crisis over how to collectively handle the hundreds of people fleeing war and misery in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Griveaux insisted there was no migrant “crisis” but urged leaders “to respond quickly to an urgent situation”.
“France is ready to send a team on site to process (asylum) requests on a case-by-case basis,” as it did for migrants aboard the Aquarius vessel once it docked in Spain after also being refused by Italy and Malta.
EU leaders are meeting in Brussels this week for a summit where the migrant issue will be high on the agenda.
Italy and Malta say they are unfairly bearing the brunt of the new arrivals, while other European countries are urging more forceful policies to block their entry.
France has proposed setting up EU asylum processing centres in Africa aimed at discouraging people to attempt dangerous trips across the Mediterranean.