Update 2 | Italian government agrees to take in 200 migrants

A group of 200 migrants claiming to be Syrian repeatedly requested to go to Italy

A group of 200 migrants rescued by a merchant vessel 285 miles South East of Malta are on their way to Italy after their repeated requests to go to Italy.

On Thursday, Malta’s Rescue Coordination Centre was informed that a fishing boat carrying around 200 migrants was in distress.

The case unfolded in Malta’s Search and Rescue Region.  Migrants, some of whom are women and children, are claiming to be Syrian.

The Maltese Rescue Coordination centre immediately diverted a merchant vessel, ‘Eleonora Maersk’, that was in the vicinity to investigate further.

Upon closer inspection and considering the worsening weather conditions (winds of force 6-7), it was decided to take the migrants onboard the merchant vessel.    

Subsequently the merchant vessel steamed in a north westerly direction, heading towards Malta. However, the migrants repeatedly requested to be taken to Italy.

While the Maltese and Italian governments were in talks over the request, the migrants refused to be transferred onboard the AFM’s Maritime Squadron’s vessel.

A spokesman for the Armed Forces of Malta confirmed that the Italian authorities agreed to the disembarkation of the migrants at an Italian port.

Following 10 hours of talks, the merchant vessel steamed North with all migrants on board.