Migration, Maltese Minister accused NGOs of “attacking” the Armed Forces
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese governement rebutted accusations made by non-governmental organisations that Malta is refusing to rescue hundreds of migrants in distress and instead accused the NGOs of “attacking” the Armed Forces of Malta. 470 migrants on board the rescue ship Geo Barents are still waiting permission to disembark. A crew member confirmed that in 72 hours they have made seven rescues, two of them in the Maltese search and rescue area. The organisation Doctors without Borders (MSF) said it is “appalled by the fact that the Maltese Armed Forces who were primarily responsible for the rescues in the area were informed but remained silent and inactive, negleting their legal obligation to provide or coordinate assistance”.
On Tuesday, another group of 500 migrants who were adrift onboard a wooden fishing boat in the Maltese search and rescue region, were escorted by Italian authorities to the port of Pozzallo in Sicily. The Maltese authorities were accused of having refused to intervene in the rescue by Alarm Phone and Sea-Eye.
The Maltese Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri denied that Malta was refusing to rescue migrants, and claimed that the migrants who disembarked in Sicily on Tuesday were not in distress “as they reached Sicily autonomously”. He added that “over the years the AFM always carried out its duties in the best way possible and this attack on the AFM is unjust and coming from who expects Malta to become a migration hub in the Mediterranean.” He reafformed that this situation will never happen.”
Minister Camilleri also denied that Malta has a secret agreement with Italy to accept migrants rescued in the Maltese search and rescue area and to be taken to Italian ports.
The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) 2021 country report on Malta published this week gives a damming review of the asylum procedures and reception conditions in Malta. The report mentioned that in 2021 the AFM continued to drastically decrease rescue operations at sea and described the situation in open reception centres as “challenging”.
In January Malta was charged with supporting crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) by coordinating pushbacks of asylum seekers at sea.
– foto xf3/ItalpressMna –