October 7, 2018 / 10:55 AM / 8 days ago

More than 100 migrants arrive in Malta on small boat

VALETTA (Reuters) - A group of 120 migrants arrived in Malta on Sunday after being rescued from a small inflatable boat in the Mediterranean by the island’s armed forces.

Migrants sit in a police bus after 120 rescued migrants were brought to the Armed Forces of Malta Maritime Squadron base at Haywharf in Valletta's Marsamxett Harbour, Malta October 7, 2018. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

Maltese armed forces said the boat was spotted during a routine patrol. The nationalities of the migrants were not immediately known.

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Sunday’s group was the biggest to arrive in Malta in a small boat since 61 made it to the island in April.

The issue of how to handle migrants has split the European Union, although arrivals are down dramatically from their 2015 peak of more than a million.

More than 650,000 people have reached Italy’s shores from North Africa since 2014 and Rome has begun to take a rigidly anti-immigration line, saying it will not let any more rescue ships dock unless other EU states agree to take the people.

Malta has also stopped letting rescue ships operated by voluntary organisations disembark unless other EU states agree to take some of the migrants aboard, but that move has boosted migrant arrivals via small boats.

Reporting by Christopher Scicluna; Editing by Susan Fenton

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