Updated | 90 migrants rescued by the Italian coastguard brought to Malta

90 migrants rescued by the Italian coastguard arrived in Malta on Tuesday evening after being transferred to a Maltese patrol vessel

The migrants were rescued by the Italian coastguard
The migrants were rescued by the Italian coastguard

90 migrants rescued by the Italian coastguard arrived in Malta on Tuesday evening after being transferred to a Maltese patrol vessel.

The migrants arrived at Hay Wharf at around 11pm, one day after they had been rescued from a sinking boat which left from Libya.

The Italian coastguard said that two Italian patrol boats transferred migrants to an AFM vessel just outside Maltese waters.

AFM said that they had been surveilling the situation, when the Italian Coastguard had gotten involved, highlighting that the closet safe port was Lampedusa and that the rescued migrants should, therefore, be taken there.  

However, the Italian coastguard said that its vessel was instead bringing the 90 migrants to Maltese waters, and would be waiting for instructions from Malta’s Search and Rescue coordination to disembark the migrants. They claim that they had already asked for a Maltese patrol boat to meet it out at sea, but it was not granted.

Permission was granted at about 8pm.

Earlier

An Italian coastguard vessel that rescued 90 migrants on Monday night has been refused permission to disembark in Malta, in the latest standoff between both countries.

According to a spokesperson for the Armed Forces of Malta, the rescue took place outside Malta’s search and rescue area (SAR).

“The Italian coastguard does not have permission to enter Maltese territorial waters,” the spokesperson said, without elaborating on the case.

The Italian media are reporting that the rescue took place in “Maltese waters”, a term often used erroneously to describe the Maltese SAR.

The reports say that the coastguard is making its way to Malta after rescuing the migrants from a wooden boat.

Malta has always stuck to the principle enshrined in international law that rescued people are taken to the closest, safest port of call, irrespective of the SAR region in which the rescue happened. The role of the country responsible for the SAR region is to coordinate the rescue.

However, Italy’s interpretation of international law has always been that the country responsible for the SAR region should take in rescued people.

This would be the first standoff between both countries after a change in government in Italy.

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