A cargo ship carrying a group of 52 migrants has been refused entry into Malta, forcing the captain of the ship to host the asylum seekers in the boat’s unhygienic cattle cages.
For the second day in a row, Talia has been anchored off Malta’s shores waiting for a response from either Malta, Italy or Spain as they continue to jockey over who should take responsibility for them.
The ship, which picked up asylum seekers from Somalia and Djibouti, was allowed to enter Malta’s waters last Sunday to shelter from a storm but was told to leave the country’s waters shortly after.
Malta’s Armed Forces also allowed for a medical evacuation of two people from the ship – migrants who had survived the Libya war and days out at sea.
Bad weather has forced the migrants to move from Talia’s upper deck to the area reserved for livestock.
Several NGOs and migrant hotlines have taken to social media to pressure the Maltese government and Robert Abela to take in the migrants, who have been out at sea for seven days now.
While solidarity is rising, #TALIA is still not allowed to disembark. Again, we demand @MaltaGov, @RobertAbela_MT, @vonderleyen, @EUCouncil, @EU_Commission, @Avramopoulos to act now and do their duty. pic.twitter.com/RmOPY1Dw8X
— Sea-Watch International (@seawatch_intl) July 6, 2020
— borderline-europe (@BorderlineEurop) July 6, 2020
— Mediterranea Saving Humans (@RescueMed) July 6, 2020
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Malta has been reluctant to take migrants in and resorted to a number of harbour cruise vessels to host over 400 migrants outside its search and rescue zone over the pandemic period. The entire operation cost taxpayers €1.7 million.
The situation on the Talia is becoming desperate with resources running low for the 52 migrants and ship’s crew.
“I am running out of food and water to give them,” Mohammad Shaaban, captain of the Talia, told Al Jazeera news.