The Malta Independent 4 August 2020, Tuesday

Aid group says Malta, Italy ignoring requests to allow disembarkation of 180 migrants

Associated Press Friday, 3 July 2020, 09:25 Last update: about 1 month ago

Aid group SOS Mediterranee says it waiting for a port to disembark 180 migrants rescued at sea, and says five requests to Italian and Maltese port authorities have gone unanswered.

The Ocean Viking ship resumed rescue operations in the Mediterranean sea on June 22, after riding out the coronavirus outbreak at its port in Marseille, France. SOS Mediterranee said Thursday it picked up a total of 180 migrants in four separate rescues over the past five days and that “the situation is unbearable” on board.

ADVERTISEMENT

Last year, key European Union members agreed to a redistribution plan for migrants rescued at sea, but its enforcement has been uneven at best. SOS Mediterranee called for the deal to be implemented, saying people are still continuing to flee Libya and cannot be kept in limbo at sea.

There was no immediate comment from the Italian interior ministry.

Italy officially closed its ports during the coronavirus lockdown to try to contain the outbreak, but migrants have continued to be brought ashore, albeit in smaller numbers. Just this week, Italian aid group Mediterranea disembarked 43 migrants in Sicily, while last week the German group SeaWatch put in quarantine some 28 migrants who tested positive for the virus while at sea.

File photo

  • don't miss