Migrants held on tourist boats allowed to land in Malta
The 425 migrants, who had been picked up in the Mediterranean during various rescue operations, had been in limbo since April on the chartered boats held outside Maltese waters.
Malta had refused them entry, pointing to the closure of its ports due to the coronavirus emergency and also to its full detention centres.
But in an about-face late on Saturday, Malta's government said it was not prepared "to endanger lives of both the migrants and the crew, due the lack of solidarity shown by European Union member states in terms of relocation."
"No European country accepted these migrants despite talk of solidarity," the government said in a statement.
Sources told AGI news service that the decision was taken because the crew feared for their safety, with the government saying the situation became "very difficult and commotions arose."
In the late hours of Saturday and early Sunday, the boats docked at Boiler Wharf in Senglea and the migrants disembarked. It was not immediately clear where they were taken.
One group, crisis hotline Alarm Phone, wrote on Facebook last month that a migrant aboard one of the boats had said that some had attempted suicide, some were on hunger strike, and that there was an outbreak of skin diseases.
Malta has repeatedly complained that indifference from its European neighbours means that it has taken in an unfair share of the wave of migrants who reach its shores by sea, mostly from war-torn Libya.
Malta said negotiations were ongoing over relocations to other European countries, while repatriations would come "within days" in cases where asylum requests were rejected.