Malta rescues 123 migrants, to be transferred to second Captain Morgan vessel

Army patrol boat and fishing vessel rescue two groups of migrants • 105 people to be kept offshore outside territorial waters • 18 women and children brought ashore

The army's P52 patrol boat was involved in one of the two rescues coordinated by Malta overnight
The army's P52 patrol boat was involved in one of the two rescues coordinated by Malta overnight

A second Captain Morgan ship has been chartered to host 105 migrants rescued overnight in two operations coordinated by Malta, MaltaToday has learnt.

Another 18 people, mostly women and children, will be brought ashore and kept in quarantine at the initial reception centre. 

The Armed Forces of Malta was involved in two rescue operations within the country’s search and rescue area, government sources said.

In the first instance, the army’s P52 patrol boat rescued 45 people from a dinghy. These included 39 men, three women, including one who is pregnant, and three children. Two of the children were aged 18 months and two years.

The second rescue was carried out by a private fishing vessel that was directed by the AFM to the site of another migrant boat in distress.

The fishing boat picked up 78 migrants, including 68 men, five women, one of who is pregnant, and five children.

The sources said an exception for "humanitarian reasons" was made to bring ashore the women and children, accompanied by an adult.

However, the remaining 105 will be transferred on a second Captain Morgan vessel that will be anchored just outside Maltese territorial waters at 13 nautical miles.

Another Captain Morgan vessel, the Europa II, chartered by the government last week, is already housing 57 migrants and is situated 13 nautical miles off the coast on Hurd’s Bank.

The sources said the migrants will be kept offshore until a European solution is found on relocation.

Malta and Italy have both closed their ports to migrants as a result of the COVID-19 emergency. Since the beginning of the year, both countries saw a 400% increase in migrant arrivals from Libya.

Another 79 migrants are currently aboard a commercial vessel, the Marina, that is outside Italian territorial waters off the coast of Lampedusa, awaiting a port of disembarkation.

Malta has lamented the EU’s lack of interest in finding a solution to ease the burden on border states from migrant arrivals.

The sources said Malta had received one offer of help from Portugal for the relocation of six migrants.

Malta has come under fire from human rights groups over its hard-line stance. A magisterial inquiry is underway to determine whether Malta had delayed the rescue of migrants who were eventually returned to Libya in a case that happened after the Easter weekend.