Alarm Phone: Malta leaves phone ringing as 23 asylum seekers await rescue

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Malta and Italy alike are washing their hands off a group of 23 asylum seekers in distress who are presently close to Lampedusa, according to NGO Alarm Phone.

Alarm Phone is an activist network which seeks to support people in distress and document violations of human rights at human borders. As its name suggests, it operates a hotline which is regularly reached by would-be asylum seekers.

The group of 23 left the Libyan port town of Zuwara and had just reached the southern reaches of Malta’s search-and-rescue zone, to the south of Lampedusa, when they contacted the NGO on Tuesday. Alarm Phone immediately requested the help of Maltese and Italian authoriites.

Shortly afterwards, the NGO later reported that the boat’s engine stopped working, leaving them adrift while water started seeping in.

But on Wednesday morning, Alarm Phone noted that neither Italy nor Malta came to the aid of the group overnight, with the boat still adrift in the Mediterranean.

However, they ultimately managed to reignite the engine and headed for Lampedusa. In spite of this, however, the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome refuses responsibility, while its Maltese counterpart refuses to answer the phone.

“’The sea is rough, we are scared,’ the people on board say. Stop non-assistance, rescue now,” the NGO exclaimed.