Malta on Tuesday agreed to let a private rescue ship dock on the island, with the 141 migrants it is carrying to be distributed among five fellow European Union nations in what was described as a "responsibility-sharing exercise."
The migrants were plucked to safety by the aid boat Aquarius in two separate operations in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya on Friday. The boat was reported to be about 50 kilometers (35 miles) from Malta on Tuesday afternoon when the deal was announced.
Many of the migrants are fleeing poverty in Africa and Asia and are eventually denied asylum, unlike those escaping wars or persecution.
Arrivals into Europe of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa numbered just over 61,500 through Aug. 12, with 1,524 deaths reported, the U.N. migration agency said Tuesday.
That compares with more than 118,000 arrivals through the same period last year, and 265,640 in 2016.
Many migrants this year have headed to Spain, on what is known as the Western Mediterranean route, with 25,101 arrivals there, the agency said. Italy received 19,231, the second-highest number.
This gallery was curated by Shoun A. Hill in New York
Text from the AP news story, Malta to let rescue boat dock with 141 migrants aboard, by Stephen Calleja and Barry Hatton.
Photos by Valerio Nicolosi