Denmark has conceded that Malta bears no responsibility for the fate of the 27 people who have been stranded on an oil tanker at Hurd’s Bank for over a month, saying the migrants should disembark in Tunisia.

On Sunday Prime Minister Robert Abela insisted that Malta was not responsible for the migrants aboard the Maersk Etienne and he placed responsibility on the Danish government as the tanker flies the Danish flag.

Contacted by Times of Malta, Denmark’s Acting Minister for Immigration and Integration, Kaare Dybvad Bek referred to the standoff as “a very unfortunate situation”.

“However, it is important to emphasise that the Danish government believes that Tunisia is responsible for receiving the people. The government stands ready to assist the Tunisian government,” he said.

The Danish government was assisting Maersk Tankers to find a “sensible solution”, he said.

“Denmark is in dialogue with the relevant parties and countries in the area and is trying – through diplomatic channels – to find a way to disembark the 27 people safely,” he added.

Asked to clarify, the Danish ministry did not say why Tunisia should shoulder responsibility.

The Maltese government has already said that the rescue by the Etienne on August 4 was not in Malta’s search-and-rescue zone.

A spokesperson for the Home Affairs Ministry confirmed “ongoing discussions” with the Danish government.

“Both sides are working together to seek solutions to resolve this issue as soon as possible. Malta is not accepting to disembark the migrants as they were intercepted outside Malta’s search and rescue region,” she said.

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