Rescued migrants to be kept on Captain Morgan vessel outside territorial waters

Maltese government has commissioned a fishing vessel to rescue 57 migrants, who will now be transferred onto a private ship 13 nautical miles from the coast • Migrants will be kept on ship until EU solution is found

Rescued migrants will be kept on Captain Morgan's Europa II vessel that will be anchored just outside Maltese territorial waters
Rescued migrants will be kept on Captain Morgan's Europa II vessel that will be anchored just outside Maltese territorial waters

Migrants rescued at sea by a fishing vessel commissioned by the Maltese government will be transferred to a Captain Morgan ship just outside territorial waters, MaltaToday has learnt.

The 57 migrants, all men and in good health, were rescued from a dinghy inside Malta’s search and rescue area by the private fishing vessel, Dar El Salaam 1, chartered by the Maltese government.

The vessel was the same one involved in a similar rescue two weeks ago when migrants were returned to Tripoli in Libya. On that occasion, 12 migrants are believed to have died after the migrant boat was left adrift for days before Malta coordinated the rescue.

The incident is subject of a magisterial inquiry.

Government sources said the Armed Forces of Malta coordinated the latest rescue and the migrants will now be transferred to the Europa II, a Captain Morgan ship, that will be anchored just outside territorial waters.

The transfer of people to the Captain Morgan vessel is expected to happen tonight depending on the sea conditions.

“The migrants will be kept safe on board the ship until a European solution is found to the problem,” the sources said, adding this was the only option Malta had short of returning the migrants to Libya.

It was NGO Alarm Phone that flagged the latest migrant vessel on Tuesday, claiming there were 61 people in distress on board a dinghy.

The sources said the migrant boat was located in Malta’s SAR in the night between Tuesday and Wednesday, with the fishing vessel carrying out the rescue on Wednesday morning.

A senior government official would only say that Malta’s stand was clear and its ports remained closed.

“Now it is the EU’s turn to show solidarity and shoulder responsibility for these migrants. While coordinating the rescue operation from yesterday, the government initiated communication with the European Commission and other member statesfor these migrants to be relocated permanently,” the official said.

He insisted that the EU had a major crisis on human trafficking on its hands and Malta was not in a position to do more.

Earlier in the day, mattresses and food supplies were seen being loaded onto the Europa II vessel in Sliema. The ship also had a banner with the EU flag strung on its side with the words, European Solidarity, on it.

The Captain Morgan website says that the 35-metre-long vessel can take up to 445 passengers.