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Finland says it will accept 8 migrants from stranded ship

Up to eight migrants stuck on a ship in Italian waters for the past two weeks will be able to seek asylum in Finland.

eurooppaan pyrkijöitä laivan kannella
Migrants on board the Sea Watch 3 rescue ship. Image: Till M. Egen / EPA

The Finnish government’s EU ministerial working group on Friday said the country will accept up to eight migrants stranded aboard the Sea Watch 3 in the Italian port on the island of Lampedusa. The Italian government said it will not permit the ship’s remaining 40 migrants to disembark after allowing 13 people off the vessel for medical treatment.

The move signals a policy turnaround for Finland as the previous centre-right government in January chose not to become involved in a similar situation where migrants were stranded aboard two ships after being refused permission to dock by both Italy and Malta.

The Sea Watch 3 is a German vessel operating under the flag of the Netherlands.

The European Commission had urged member states to accept migrants rescued by the Sea Watch 3 off the coast of Libya after a two-week stand-off between the ship and Italian officials.

The Finnish working group said the decision was a one-off deal and that any migrants from the ship arriving in Finland would be subject to the same procedures as other asylum seekers entering the country.

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