Hosting 425 migrants on four boats out at sea cost taxpayers €1.7 million and discussions to secure EU funds are ongoing, the government said on Monday.

The vast majority of that cost - €1 million - went to pay for the 33,000 hours of security services needed to keep watch of the migrants.

They were detained aboard the boats after Malta closed its ports when declaring a public health emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic. 

They were only brought ashore over fears of a takeover on one of them. 

On Monday the government said in a statement that renting the four vessels racked up a bill of €363,440: €3,000 a day for each Captain Morgan boat and €6,500 for one owned by Supreme Travel. 

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The sum of €212,646.12 was paid out to 33 companies for the provision of food, drinks, sanitation products and clothes.

Vessels needed to be rented out to deliver these items, and this cost €87,741. The disembarkation procedure meanwhile cost €10,908.12.

In the statement the government said that talks with the EU about funding for the costs were ongoing.

While the government has said that it expects the EU to foot the bill for the operation, the EU has said that Malta's application for funding is "not eligible for support".

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