Malta, Italy standoff over fishing vessel that rescued migrants off Lampedusa

A Maltese-registered fishing vessel rescued the migrants on Sunday morning just off the island of Lampedusa in Malta’s SAR

The island of Lampedusa has seen several autonomous landings by migrants. Inset shows the location (in black) of the latest migrant rescue in Maltese SAR, close to Lampedusa.
The island of Lampedusa has seen several autonomous landings by migrants. Inset shows the location (in black) of the latest migrant rescue in Maltese SAR, close to Lampedusa.

Malta and Italy are at loggerheads over where to disembark around 70 migrants, picked up at sea by a fishing vessel close to Lampedusa.

The rescue happened on Sunday morning in Malta’s search and rescue zone, a few miles away from the Italian island of Lampedusa.

The rescue was coordinated by the Maltese rescue and coordination centre and in line with international conventions, the vessel was directed to disembark the migrants at the closest, safest port of call – Lampedusa. 

MaltaToday is informed that the fishing vessel is the Maltese-registered Tremar. The vessel is believed to be one of three private vessels commissioned by the Maltese government to carry out rescues.

The last known position of the Tremar on VesselFinder, a ship tracking site, was between Malta and Lampedusa on 14 May. The vessel’s transponder has since been switched off.

AlarmPhone, a migrant emergency phont service, flagged a migrant vessel that was in distress over the weekend, putting the boat's coordinates in Maltese SAR, off the island of Lampedusa.

Malta and Italy have closed their ports to migrant disembarkations as a result of the COVID-19 emergency.

However, Lampedusa has seen several autonomous arrivals, including one over the weekend when a wooden vessel with more than 60 migrants aboard made it to Cala Madonna.

Malta is keeping some 160 rescued migrants on board two Captain Morgan ships just outside territorial waters on Hurd’s Bank.

The Maltese government is insisting that it will not disembark migrants until an EU relocation mechanism is put in place.

Malta and Italy have seen migrant arrivals from Libya shoot up by 400% this year as war in the north African state intensifies.

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