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Updated | Italy refuses entry to migrant rescue vessel left stranded off Malta

A Transport Malta vessel has been dispatched to pick up those crew members aboard the ship with tickets for flights departing from Malta

paul_cocks
Paul Cocks
7 August 2017, 1:09pm
Last updated on 7 August 2017, 4:29pm
The Golfo Azzurro is belived to be carrying up to 20 migrants on board
The Golfo Azzurro is belived to be carrying up to 20 migrants on board
A Boat Refugee Foundation vessel carrying three rescued persons has been left stranded in international waters after Italy seems to have denied it entry to its ports, citing breach of a new Code of Conduct for Search-and-Rescue NGOs introduced last week.

MaltaToday is informed that the rescue vessel Golfo Azzurro had made for Lampedusa, which was the nearest port of call, but was refused entry by the Italian authorities.

Sources said that the Maltese government is adamnant that Italy needs to take the rescued persons in since Lampedusa was the nearest port of call to where they were saved by the NGO. Moreover, Italy had been in contact with the vessel during the rescue.

The vessel, Golfo Azzurro, approached Maltese waters because some of its crew members were in possession of tickets for flights departing from Malta.

The Golfo Azzurro (in the yellow box) awaits the arrival of a Transport Malta launch outside Maltese waters
The Golfo Azzurro (in the yellow box) awaits the arrival of a Transport Malta launch outside Maltese waters
A Transport Malta vessel has been dispatched to pick up those crew members only, with the vessel then expected to head back towards Italy.

In comments to Spanish media, the crew said that, in a rescue operation that lasted 17 hours, three Libyans were rescued some hundred miles off the Libyan coast. A distress call was launched from the boat carrying the three men. Despite Lampedusa being the nearest port of call, Italy reportedly told the crew to go to Malta. The vessel remains without a port of destination.

Italian authorities on Wednesday seized a vessel operated by German NGO Jugend Rettet, which it accused of making contact with people-smugglers off the coast of Libya.

The Boat Refugee Foundation is a Dutch non-governmental organisation which first launched its Mediterranean SAR work in 2016, when it saved around 1,500 migrants during its six-week mission.

It also provides medical and psychosocial aid in the refugee camps on Samos and Lesbos.

paul_cocks
Paul Cocks joined MaltaToday after having spent years working in newspapers with The Times...