Malta has rescued 118 asylum seekers who were in danger of drowning in its search and rescue region.
In a statement the Home Affairs Ministry said that the Armed Forces of Malta were “forced” to rescue the asylum seekers in distress in a region which falls under Malta’s responsibility.
Among the group were ten women and five children. One of the women was travelling with a newborn baby.
Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri said that the Libyan authorities have intercepted some 7,000 people who sought to escape the war torn country in search of a better life through the Central Mediterranean route.
Camilleri stressed that the government will continue with its cooperation with the Libyan authorities to prevent further asylum seekers from leaving Libya, adding that the strategy would prevent asylum seekers from losing their lives when attempting such perilous journeys.
Those who fail to qualify for protection will be returned – Camilleri
The government has prioritized the return of asylum seekers, Minister Camilleri said, explaining that those who fail to qualify for protection will be returned home. The government will also continue working to ensure the relocation of asylum seekers who disembark in Malta to other member states.
To date 450 asylum seekers have been relocated among other European member states.
The Minister also revealed that since the airport was reopened in July, representatives of various states from which asylum seekers originate were in Malta. In the coming weeks, the government will be repatriating a ‘considerable’ number of migrants who failed to qualify for asylum.