The Malta Independent 20 May 2024, Monday
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EC urges Malta to take migrants, government says no

Malta Independent Tuesday, 6 August 2013, 14:08 Last update: about 11 years ago

The European Commission has urged Malta to allow the 102 migrant on board the tanker Salamis to disembark on the island. 

But the government has insisted that the tanker has no right to enter Maltese territorial waters.

The AFM is providing food and water to the migrants, and assessing their medical situation. 

The Commission said that “according to the information available to the Commission, the master of the ship M/V SALAMIS has fulfilled his humanitarian duties to save the lives of 102 people on the high sea, amongst them four pregnant women, one injured woman as well as a five months old baby."

“After the rescue, the master of the ship continued its way to its port of destination in Malta,” a statement by Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said.

“The ship is now closest to Malta and waiting to disembark the rescued people. It is first and foremost important to save the lives of the rescued persons. Any dispute about the responsible search and rescue authority, including the involvement of the Italian and Libyan authorities, as well as the right place of disembarkation does not help the persons in immediate need. These issues should be clarified at a later stage," the statement said.

“At this point in time, it is the humanitarian duty of the Maltese authorities to allow these persons to disembark. Sending the ship back to Libya would be contrary to international law. The master of the ship has dispatched an urgent medical request as the injured woman needs immediate hospitalisation.”

“The Commission therefore urges Malta to let these persons disembark as soon as possible.”

In reply, the Maltese government said that the tanker has made some movements that are considered as normal. But it reiterated that the vessel has no permission to enter Maltese territorial waters.


The standoff with the tanker Salamis, which picked up 102 migrants 45 nautical off the Libyan coast has entered its second day, with no new developments according to the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM).

A spokesperson for the AFM said that a patrol boat is on site and observing the Salamis.

Yesterday, the Maltese government instructed the tanker to turn back to take the migrants to the closest safe port of call, which was Libya.

Libya is not a signatory of the Geneva Convention on the Rights of Refugees.

The instructions it was given were ignored and the tanker continued on its way to Malta.

The government informed the captain that as the migrants were not in danger, the tanker would not be allowed into Maltese territorial waters.

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