The Malta Independent 30 March 2023, Thursday
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‘Totally false’: Home Affairs Minister denies claims of delayed rescue of migrants

Monday, 6 February 2023, 18:34 Last update: about 3 months ago

Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri has described claims by activists of a policy to delay migrant rescues as a form of deterrent as “totally false.”

During a commemoration to those lost at sea on Sunday, 47 organisations condemned the government for, according to them, refusing to uphold its search and rescues (SAR) responsibilities and asking for this to change as it is causing the death of many asylum seekers.


This also came after the bodies of eight migrants had been recovered by Italy's coast guard during an overnight operation on Friday in Malta’s SAR zone.

Another two people, a new-born and a man fell into the sea during the crossing and were presumed dead, the Italian coast guard said in a statement, citing survivor accounts.

The organisations lambasted the government for what they described as a “murderous policy” to delay or avoid rescuing migrants.

Asked for his response to the criticism by The Malta Independent, Camilleri said that it is “totally false” that Malta delays or avoids carrying out rescues.

He said that Malta will continue working so to stop human traffickers from putting boats into the water and sending them out of Libya in the first place.

He said that if the battle against human traffickers does not continue, then “unfortunately these stories will keep repeating themselves.”  Camilleri added that this is the best way to reduce the number of lives lost at sea.

On the exact criticism that Malta took too long to take action, Camilleri said that as far as he is aware, the Armed Forces of Malta sought assistance from Italy and Tunisia immediately after it received word from the fishing boat which found the migrants’ boat.

Camilleri said that assistance was sought from Italian and Tunisian authorities because they were closer to the location of the boat, and added that it was in fact Italian authorities who arrived on the scene first.


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