The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

Spat between Malta and Italy on latest migrants case continues

Monday, 18 May 2020, 11:20 Last update: about 11 days ago

Malta insists that fishing vessel with 74 migrants on it should be accepted by Lampedusa – the closest port of safety.

On Sunday, the government instructed Malta’s rescue and coordination centre to lead a rescue operation for migrants in distress within Italy’s Search and Rescue Zone.

A fishing vessel was sent out to rescue a boat with approximately 50 people fleeing from Libya which was reported by NGO Alarm Phone on Twitter.


"They are in distress in the Italian SAR zone and only a few miles from Lampedusa," its post read.

The NGO said that water was entering the boat and that the weather conditions there were dangerous and that “they need immediate rescue."



Since then, 74 migrants in total have been confirmed to be on the fishing vessel sent out for rescue by Maltese authorities.

On Monday, Italian news agency ANSA reported that two migrants had to be evacuated due to medical conditions. These migrants are a couple with the woman being nine months into her pregnancy. They have been evacuated to Lampedusa which is the closest safe port of call for the fishing vessel, and the woman has been issued into hospital.

Nonetheless, the rest of the migrants are still at sea as both Italy and Malta have closed their ports due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Alarm Phone was notified about Malta’s rescue mission but it was not given any further information.

The migration situation in the Mediterranean has been a hot topic over the past few months. Malta has had its fair share of controversy on the matter, especially since Malta's ports were closed. More than 150 saved migrants are currently being held on private chartered ferries just off Malta.

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