More migrants transferred onto Captain Morgan ships, 'majority' come from 'safe' countries

More migrants were transferred to the Captain Morgan vessels outside Maltese territorial waters yesterday after the army was involved in another rescue operation

Photos captured by MaltaToday before the transfer was carried out
Photos captured by MaltaToday before the transfer was carried out

More migrants were transferred to the Captain Morgan vessels outside Maltese territorial waters yesterday after the army was involved in another rescue operation.

This brings the total of migrants on board the three tourist vessels to more than 350, according to a spokesperson for the Home Affairs Ministry.

The Armed Forces of Malta was involved in the rescue of 90 migrants on Monday night and these were transferred to one of the Captain Morgan ships early on Tuesday.

However, AFM later clarified on Wednesday morning that eight children and 18 women had disembarked in Malta on Tuesday. 

Asked for a breakdown of nationalities of people on board the Captain Morgan vessels, the spokesperson said “the majority” are from countries “considered safe”.

However, the ministry failed to give MaltaToday a more detailed breakdown of the numbers by nationality and sex.

“There are currently more than 350 migrants on board the Captain Morgan, the majority of which are coming from countries like Bangladesh, Morocco, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and other West African countries which are considered safe,” a spokesperson for the ministry said.

She said these countries are not characterised by any particular conflict and their citizens are generally not granted protection in the EU.

The ministry said all women were brought ashore, clarifying that a small group from those rescued last Friday were temporarily kept on one of the vessels and transferred to Malta on Tuesday.

“There are no women and children aboard the Captain Morgan vessels,” the spokesperson said.

Other questions as to whether the migrants being kept offshore have access to medical care remained unanswered.

Meanwhile, Malta's Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS) has requested access to the three Captain Morgan ships hosting migrants.

According to a report in the Times of Malta, a source within AWAS, a State agency, said the government had not yet given them the all clear to board the vessels.

The source said the lack of access having been granted might indicate that the government could possibly fear a negative assessment of the conditions on board the boats.

On Monday, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri disputed claims made by NGO Alarm Phone that some of the migrants had gone on a hunger strike.

Camilleri said in Parliament that no information to this effect had been passed on to him.

The government has contracted the three tourist vessels to host migrants rescued at sea. They are anchored on Hurd’s Bank, just outside territorial waters at 13NM.

A video of migrants on board one of the ships published by Lovin Malta yesterday showed the people and crew in jubilant mode, singing ‘Viva l-Labour’.

Government has said that it will keep migrants on board these vessels until a European solution is found to relocate the people. Some have been on the ships for almost three weeks.

Malta closed its ports to migrant arrivals as part of travel restrictions introduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the government is insisting the country cannot be left alone to deal with the migration phenomenon as fighting in Libya intensifies, pushing more people to flee.

Malta and Italy have experienced more than a 400% increase in migrant arrivals in the first five months, when compared to last year.

Over the past few days, the Libyan coastguard was involved in the rescue of some 500 people in various operations in Libyan waters. These were taken back to Tripoli.

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