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VALLETTA, Malta (AP) — More than 400 migrants are living aboard pleasure cruise vessels bobbing in the sea off Malta, many of them for weeks now. But for them, it’s no pleasure, only uncertainty over their fate and they aren’t cruising anywhere.

Rescued from human traffickers’ unseaworthy boats in several operations in the central Mediterranean since late April, the migrants, along with the Maltese government, are waiting for European Union countries to offer to take them in.

So far, only France has stepped forward, pledging to accept some of the asylum-seekers.

France is one of a handful of EU countries which agreed last year to share the burden of caring for migrants rescued at sea by Malta and Italy.

But that arrangement often yielded pledges that weren’t fully met, and that was before COVID-19 containment measures in Europe made movement of peoples across borders even more complicated.

On Wednesday, SOS Mediterranee, a European humanitarian group which has operated rescue boats in the Mediterranean Sea, lamented that the migrants being held on the chartered tourist boats were being used as political pawns.

“Instead of disembarking them in a safe place, as international law requires, the persons rescued at sea get used for political negotiations with member states of the European Union, which, despite the urgency of the situation, haven’t proposed a coordinated solution for their transfer,” the group said in a statement.

On Tuesday, some of the migrants could be seen walking on deck. Their laundry hung from improvised clothes lines. Maltese armed forces, arrayed in boats, keep watch on the four vessels usually used for pleasure excursions to ferry tourists to the tiny Mediterranean island nation’s attractions, like the blue grotto and beaches accessible by sea. The small flotilla of tourist boats is about 23 kilometers (14 miles) off shore.

With Malta under COVID-19 containment measures, its ports have been closed, and the four tourist cruise boats can’t operate for business now. But this week, Malta announced that on July 1 it re-opens to tourism. The government is paying several thousand euros a day to charter the boats from a Maltese company.

At a news conference Monday to outline the July 1 travel rules, Prime Minister Robert Abela was asked about the migrants’ fate. Abela described the situation as unfortunate. He noted that while Malta reopens its airport on July 1, its ports stay closed for now as part of coronavirus containment rules.

Malta has registered 620 known cases of COVID-19. About 50 of those infections were suffered by migrants in one of its reception centers on land. With that one under quarantine and others full in late April, Malta decided to charter private vessels, in this case from a tourist pleasure craft company, to house the migrants.

The numbers of migrants kept at sea swelled last week to past 400, with the latest sea rescue on May 27.

Abela said this week he hoped a European solution will be found for these migrants as well in case of future rescues of migrants from boats launched by Libya-based traffickers. The migrants flee conflict and poverty, with many of them coming from sub-Saharan Africa. Migrants who embark on the dangerous journeys because of economic reasons usually see their asylum bids denied.

Two weeks ago, the U.N. Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration said it was “unacceptable to leave people at sea longer than necessary, especially under difficult and unsuitable conditions.” The organizations noted that 21 people, mostly families and children, had been evacuated and brought ashore to Malta earlier in May.

Early in the standoff at sea, Maltese Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo said that since 2005, other EU countries had taken what he called a “miserly 8% of all those who were saved and brought to Malta.”

___

Frances D’Emilio reported from Rome. Sylvie Corbet contributed from Paris.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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Fantasy Football Week 12 TE Rankings: Dallas Goedert Shines, Zach Ertz to Return?

Getty Zach Ertz #86 of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Welcome to our Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings for Week 12 of the 2020 NFL regular season. The much-maligned Evan Engram returns from a bye and still remains a top-12 scorer at the position. Jordan Akins looks to be emerging in Houston, as the Texans TE is fresh off a six target, five reception, 83-yard outing (season-high). Plus, Zach Ertz’s return to the Eagles’ lineup appears to be imminent, what does that mean for Dallas Goedert’s fantasy outlook? Let’s take a look.

* If you’re looking for more information on how to best set your lineup this coming week check out our Week 12 TE Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em. (COMING SOON)

Reminder: These rankings are based on full-PPR scoring formats.

Follow the Heavy on Fantasy Facebook page for all the latest rankings, updates, & insight! Tight End Outlook Week 12

Zach Ertz (TE7) returned to practice this week for the Eagles, but wasn’t healthy enough to suit up come game time. Dallas Goedert (TE5) stepped up in Ertz’s continued absence, putting forth the fourth-highest scoring output by a TE in Week 11. Goedert has now seen 12 targets over the past two weeks and is clearly Carson Wentz’s favorite target at the moment, as Travis Fulgham fades into the abyss.

There’s a good chance Ertz returns to the lineup this week, and if he does he is immediately re-inserted as a top-play at a position lacking fantasy consistency. Yes, he did score below double-digits in four of his six games this season. Yet, Philly has been able to better incorporate two TE sets in their gameplan, as Richard Rodgers has scored in double-digits in back-to-back games playing second-fiddle to Goedert. If Rodgers can accomplish said feat, I’ll take my chances with Ertz.

This week the Eagles take on a Seahawks team that is actually quite stout against the TE position. With that said, they are highly susceptible to pass-catchers overall, allowing a league-high 343.7 ypg through the air. Regardless of position, Goedert and Ertz are options 1A and 1B for the Eagles’ passing game when healthy.

Week 12 Fantasy Rankings: Tight End

Rankings
[QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | DEF | Ks]

Matchup: Great l Avg l Tough

#

Tight End TEAM

Opp.

1

Travis Kelce KC

@ TB

2

Darren Waller LV

@ ATL

3

Mark Andrews BAL

@ PIT

4

Hunter Henry LAC

@ BUF

5

Dallas Goedert PHI

vs. SEA

6

Rob Gronkowski TB

vs. KC

7

Zach Ertz PHI INJ

vs. SEA

8

T.J. Hockenson DET

vs. HOU

9

Eric Ebron PIT

vs. BAL

10

Evan Engram NYG

@ CIN

11

Jonnu Smith TEN

@ IND

12

Robert Tonyan GB

vs. CHI

13

Austin Hooper CLE

@ JAC

14

Dalton Schultz DAL

vs. WAS

15

Hayden Hurst ATL

vs. LV

16

Noah Fant DEN

vs. NO

17

Jordan Reed SF

@ LAR

18

Mike Gesicki MIA

@ NYJ

19

Jimmy Graham CHI

@ GB

20

Tyler Higbee LAR

vs. SF

21

Trey Burton IND

vs. TEN

22

Jordan Akins HOU

@ DET

23

Gerald Everett LAR

vs. SF

24

Tyler Eifert JAC

vs. CLE

25

Richard Rodgers PHI

vs. SEA

26

Logan Thomas WAS

@ DAL

27

Dawson Knox BUF

vs. LAC

28

Dan Arnold ARI

@ NE

29

Jared Cook NO

@ DEN

30

Irv Smith Jr. MIN

vs. CAR

31

Chris Herndon IV NYJ

vs. MIA

32

Cameron Brate TB

vs. KC

33

Jace Sternberger GB

vs. CHI

34

Mo Ali-Cox IND

vs. TEN

35

Greg Olsen SEA

@ PHI

36

Kyle Rudolph MIN

vs. CAR

37

Jack Doyle IND

vs. TEN

38

Ross Dwelley SF

@ LAR

39

Jaeden Graham ATL

vs. LV

40

Drew Sample CIN

vs. NYG

41

Pharaoh Brown HOU

@ DET

42

Durham Smythe MIA

@ NYJ

43

Tyler Kroft BUF

vs. LAC

44

Ryan Izzo NE

vs. ARI

45

Jacob Hollister SEA

@ PHI

46

Harrison Bryant CLE

@ JAC

47

Darren Fells HOU

@ DET

48

Cole Kmet CHI

@ GB

49

Levine Toilolo NYG

@ CIN

50

Troy Fumagalli DEN

vs. NO

51

Anthony Firkser TEN

@ IND

52

Adam Shaheen MIA

@ NYJ

53

David Njoku CLE

@ JAC

54

Darrell Daniels ARI

@ NE

55

Ian Thomas CAR

@ MIN

56

Will Dissly SEA

@ PHI

57

Adam Trautman NO

@ DEN

58

Kaden Smith NYG COV

@ CIN

59

Ryan Griffin NYJ

vs. MIA

60

James O’Shaughnessy JAC

vs. CLE

61

Nick Vannett DEN

vs. NO

62

Charlie Woerner SF

@ LAR

63

Vance McDonald PIT

vs. BAL

64

Blake Bell DAL

vs. WAS

65

Jesse James DET

vs. HOU

66

Tanner Hudson TB

vs. KC

67

Lee Smith BUF

vs. LAC

68

Demetrius Harris CHI

@ GB

69

Nick Keizer KC

@ TB

70

Trevon Wesco NYJ

vs. MIA

71

Luke Stocker ATL

vs. LV

72

Cethan Carter CIN

vs. NYG

73

Chris Manhertz CAR

@ MIN

74

MyCole Pruitt TEN

@ IND

75

Tyler Conklin MIN

vs. CAR

76

Jeremy Sprinkle WAS

@ DAL

For More Fantasy Content Follow @VinnySomma on Twitter. READ NEXT
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