Brussels has urged Malta and Italy to disembark migrants stranded at sea. 

During Monday's midday press briefing, the European Commission’s spokesman on migration urged frontline member states to facilitate the disembarkation on dry land those that have been rescued at sea in recent weeks.  

A stand-off between Malta and other EU states has developed in recent weeks, over the fate of 27 migrants rescued by a cargo ship, the Maersk Etienne, earlier this month. 

Since the 16-year-old oil tanker picked up the group on August 5, the vessel has been anchored at Hurds Bank, waiting for permission to take them to shore.

A number of NGO rescue vessels also have migrants on board but have not been allowed to disembark in Malta.  

On Monday, the Commission spokesman said the situation in the waters between North Africa and Europe was being followed very closely from Brussels, and appealed for members states to cooperate. 

Coastal member states, the spokesman said, have a responsibility, but they should not have to face them alone. 

The Commission is in close contact with frontline member states like Malta, the spokesman said, trying to facilitate discussion and coordinate efforts.  

In July, the government announced it was planning to quarantine migrants with coronavirus at sea.

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