The Government of Malta is calling on the Italian Deputy Prime Minister to ‘check his facts’, regarding the rescued migrants on Sea Watch 3.
The address follows statements made Italian Deputy Prime Minister, Luigi Di Maio, suggesting that the rescue took place closer to Malta, therefore making them responsible for disembarkation.
Di Maio states, ‘Two ships on the borders of Europe. Once again only Italy is called into question. Malta does not dock boats despite being in their territorial waters one mile from the coast… Malta must immediately land women and children from those boats and send them to Italy. We will welcome them. We are ready once again to give, as always, a lesson of humanity to the whole of Europe.’
In response, the Maltese Government has said that the ‘rescue was made closer to Italy than to Malta and while the NGO did request Italy to provide a safe port in which to disembark the rescued migrants, Italy refused to allocate a safe port which is why the NGO vessel was forced to sail further away from the point of rescue and to seek refuge within Maltese territorial waters.’
The Government also reiterates that Italy has closed its ports to NGO vessels carrying rescued migrants, despite the country’s responsibility to disembark under international law.
In concluding, they call on Italy to participate in the voluntary relocation programme for around 300 rescued migrants, currently being coordinated by the European Commission.