Malta’s government is facing serious questions over allegedly leaving 270 migrants stranded out at sea within the country’s Search and Rescue (SAR) zone.
NGOs Alarm Phone and Sea Watch have claimed that there are three dinghies currently within the SAR zone. One dinghy is carrying 60 people, another 100 people, and the third 110 people. Two boats have allegedly been saved in Lampedusa, a third is still missing.
“It seems like the Armed Forces of Malta and JRCC are actively hindering the rescue of the people, instead of coordinating it. This behaviour is criminal,” Sea Watch wrote.
“The situation of the 270 people at sea is still critical. Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) and the Italian Coast Guard refuse to provide assistance or to coordinate rescue by merchant vessels. They have all been abandoned at sea for many hours at risk of drowning. We don’t want another Easter tragedy” the hotline tweeted.
Local NGO Civil Society Network has since demanded an explanation from the government.
“This is a serious accusation that implies not only moral bankruptcy but a serious breach of international law. The Maltese people and the international community deserve an explanation from the Maltese Government regarding the fate of these people, who were in the Maltese SAR Zone.”
“The Maltese Government is responsible for protecting the lives of everyone in its jurisdiction. The established SAR Zone, while not instructive of were to disembark rescued people, obliges the state to coordinate the rescue of imperilled lives, irrespective of their identity or nationality,” it said.
In Easter 2020, at least 12 people died at sea, a tragedy dubbed as “an Easter Massacre” by local NGO Repubblika. The group accused Prime Minister Robert Abela and other officials of going orders of an illegal pushback against conventions of international law.
Yesterday, Xarabank host Peppi Azzopardi published a poem lamenting how people would react if Jesus were living today, as a migrant risking his life at sea.
Lovin Malta has reached out to the Home Affairs Ministry for clarification.
The #NordicStar had changed course towards the distress case, after an emergency call from #Moonbird, but now turned away again.
It seems like @armed_forces_MT & JRCC #Malta are actively hindering the rescue of the people, instead of coordinating it. This behavior is criminal. pic.twitter.com/Y7984Cm0Rq
— Sea-Watch International (@seawatch_intl) April 2, 2021
What do you think of the issue? Comment below