Migrant rescue vessel Alan Kurdi sets course for Malta

The ship, which is operated by the NGO Sea-Eye, is heading for Malta with 40 rescued migrants on board after having been denied entry into Lampedusa by Italian authorities

Djokovic, four, is one of the three infants onboard
Djokovic, four, is one of the three infants onboard

The migrant rescue vessel Alan Kurdi has set course for Malta, carrying 40 migrants rescued off the coast of Libya on Wednesday. 

In a statement, the NGO Sea-Eye, which operates the ship, said that late on Thursday night it was denied permission to dock in Lampedusa. 

The migrants were rescued from a rubber boat which was in distress, roughly 29 nautical miles off the Libyan coast. Among those rescued were two women, one of which was six months pregnant, as well as three infants aged one, two and four. 

Sea-Eye said that despite only being 20 nautical miles from Lampedusa at that time, Rome had referred the Alan Kurdi to the "jurisdiction of Malta".

The NGO said that despite the ship being 100 nautical miles from the island, the Italian authorities told them that if there were any medical emergencies, Malta could send a doctor.

"We have saved 40 people, 15 of whom are minors and in particular need of protection. Two of them survived the Tajura air raid and are now being held hostage by [Italian Home Affairs Minister Matteo] Salvini outside of Lampedusa. Thus the inhumane haggling about individual fates is seamlessly continued and after the "Gregoretti", the "Alan Kurdi" gives him further cause for dispute with his EU neighbours", Gorden Isler, spokesman of Sea Eye said. 

The NGO said that after Germany participated in the distribution of rescued persons in the case of the Italian coastguard ship "Gregoretti", Berlin "seemed to expect concessions" from Rome regarding the German ship "Alan Kurdi". However, the NGO said, Salvini opted to use this possibility for a "political scandal with Germany".

"Salvini uses the flag of our ship and abuses the difficult situation, on the back of the rescued people, for a political conflict with Germany. He seems to be guided only by the question of what benefits him in domestic politics. Salvini needs enemy images for his populist politics. These include aid organisations such as Sea-Eye, refugees and his EU neighbours. I consider him a very dangerous man," Isler said.

MaltaToday has reached out to the government for more information and is awaiting a response. However, sources insist that the migrant vessel has not yet made contact with Maltese authorities.

READ MORE: Migrant rescue vessel Alan Kurdi rescues 40 migrants off Libya