Malta accused with more pushbacks of migrants to Libya
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – 88 people in a boat in Maltàs Search and Rescue Area (SAR) were illegally pushed back to Libya on Wednesday afternoon.
The sea rescue organisation Alarm Phone said a boat which was also spotted in Maltàs SAR with around 88 people was intercepted by the “so-called Libyan Coastguard”.
The NGO said the systematic pushbacks to Libya “have to stop immediately! People flee to find a safe place!”
NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans said “this is not the first time Malta is involved in illegal practices in areas that fall under its responsibility.”
This comes after Wednesday’s shocking revelation that the Maltese government paid a Libyan-flagged fishing vessel “three to four” times for ferrying asylum seekers intercepted at sea back to Libya.
Libya is not considered a safe port of disembarkation and last year, the United Nations said the North African country is “not a safe port for refugees and asylum-seekers to be returned to.”
So far in 2021, according to the latest statistics issued by the International Organisation for Migration, at least 685 people have died while trying to cross the Mediterranean.
Alarm Phone and other sea rescue organisations often relay GPS coordinates of boats in distress to Italian, Maltese and Libyan authorities and Frontex, the European Union’s border and coastguard agency, in the hope that the people at sea are rescued as required under international maritime law.
However, analysis of logs and emails from Alarm Phone and SOS Mediterranèe as well as reports by the Libyan coastguard show that the national authorities contacted frequently respond slowly, insufficiently, or not at all to the pleas for help.