A total of 265 migrants arrived at Porto Empedocle in Sicily this morning after allegedly being denied entry into Malta.
The irregular migrants, many of whom fled from war-torn Libya over the past few days, were rescued by the NGO Open Arms.
According to the NGO, 97 of the migrants were in Malta’s Search and Rescue zone and had to be rescued after attempts to contact Maltese authorities failed.
Moreover, Open Arms CEO Oscar Camps claimed that Malta denied entry to the rescue ship and its 265 migrant passengers but was accepted by Italy who instructed the ship to disembark at Porto Empedocle in Sicily.
Video footage uploaded this morning shows the migrants disembarking in the middle of the night.
And already at dawn in #PortEmpedocle, we have just transferred 265 people who today are about to start a new life (in quarantine) in a safe place that, hopefully, will treat them better. #eachlifeccount #med pic.twitter.com/3Y8U8z2eW9
— Open Arms ENG (@openarms_found) January 5, 2021
Malta’s Home Affairs Ministry has remained silent on whether or not they refused entry to the ship and its 265 passengers despite Lovin Malta’s multiple attempts to confirm the allegation.
A spokesperson from the Armed Forces of Malta claimed to have no information on the operation either.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, Malta is continuously facing problems of irregular migration from the Mediterranean with claims that 340 migrants attempted to cross the sea since the beginning of 2021.
In 2020 alone, approximately 575 people died making the perilous journey. However, indications suggest that the number is much higher.
The EU has stepped in to help burden the migration crisis, most notably Germany and France, who last year accepted a number of asylum-seekers from Malta following a bilateral agreement to reduce the irregular migration in Europe.
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