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Over 260 Migrants At Sea Denied Entry To Malta, Spanish Search And Rescue NGO Claims

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Malta has denied entry to over 260 migrants rescued at sea, some in the country’s search and rescue zone, the Open Arms NGO has claimed.

According to migrant helpline Alarm Phone, 97 of the migrants had reached Malta’s Search and Rescue zone but any attempts to contact Maltese authorities were futile. They were eventually picked up by Open Arms.

Taking to Twitter, Open Arms CEO Oscar Camps claimed that the ship, containing 265 rescued migrants, would disembark at Porto Empedocle in Sicily after it was denied entry into Malta.

“Italy has just confirmed a safe port for us, Porto Empedocle, Sicily, after Malta refused us to disembark,” he said.

Camps also posted a video of the dire conditions on board made worse by the spell of bad weather that hit the Mediterranean over the weekend.

“When it rains, conditions on deck deteriorate rapidly. This same situation in a boat would be certain death,” he said.

Lovin Malta reached out to an Armed Forces of Malta spokesperson who said they had no information on the incident.

Since the start of January, at least 340 migrants attempted to flee war-torn Libya which finds itself in a prolonged civil war for the better part of the past decade following an uprising against long-standing dictator Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi.

The issue of fleeing migrants in the Mediterranean continues to be a pressing issue in Malta. Last year, 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.

Photo credit: Joan Mateu Parra

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