Malta’s Home Affairs Ministry has yet to comment on claims that the country denied entry to 265 migrants rescued at sea.
The migrants, many coming from Libya, were picked up by Spanish Search and Rescue NGO Open Arms over the weekend.
According to the NGO, 97 of the migrants were rescued in Malta’s Search and Rescue zone by the rescue ship despite attempts to make contact with Maltese authorities.
Open Arms CEO Oscar Camps claimed that Malta denied entry to the rescue ship and its 265 migrant passengers. Instead, the ship disembarked at Porto Empedocle in Sicily.
Diluvia y las condiciones en cubierta se deterioran rápidamente por el mal tiempo. Esta misma situación en una patera seria una muerte segura. Después de las negativas de Malta para permitirnos desembarcar, Italia nos acaba de confirmar un puerto seguro: Porto Empedocle, Sicilia. pic.twitter.com/i4m6SGNWh0
— Oscar Camps (@campsoscar) January 3, 2021
Lovin Malta attempted to contact the Home Affairs Ministry, including Minister Byron Camilleri, to confirm these allegations but message remain ignored.
The country has been wrestling with irregular migration for several years now. In 2020, there were several cases of Malta denying migrants entry into its ports partially due to the coronavirus pandemic, which saw harbour cruise vessels house migrants outside the country’s territorial waters.
Moreover approximately 575 have died on the journey in 2020 with indications that the real number is higher.
Speaking at a Summit Med 7 last year, Prime Minister Robert Abela addressed the immigration crisis affecting Malta and insisted that it be given more importance in the EU.
Since then, Germany and France have accepted asylum-seekers from Malta following a bilateral agreement to reduce the irregular migration in Europe.
In 2021 so far, at least 340 migrants attempted to flee war-torn Libya.
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