No information about some 50 asylum seekers in Maltese SAR

Sea Watch

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The Armed Forces of Malta are not informed about a group of around 50 asylum seekers who are adrift the in Maltese search and rescue zone. The fate of the people who were spotted for the first time in the area for which Malta is responsible on Saturday, is not known.

A spokesperson was asked whether the AFM was aware of a rubber boat adrift in Maltese search and rescue and whether there has been a disembarkation during the past 24 hours.

The spokesperson replied that she was neither informed about any rescue operation nor about any rubber boat in distress.

A group of 50 to 60 asylum seekers have found themselves in distress in Malta’s search and rescue area, but a nearby Armed Forces of Malta vessel allegedly turned away from their rubber boat.

NGOs insisted that Malta has a duty to rescue the group
50 awaiting rescue in Maltese SAR

Alarm Phone, an NGO which operates a hotline for people crossing the Mediterranean in a bid to reach Europe, alerted Maltese and Italian authorities shortly after 5am on Saturday to the presence of the group in Malta’s SAR zone.

Humanitarian NGO Sea-Watch sent its reconnaissance airplane Moonbird to check on the vessel, finding that an AFM patrol boat, the P24, was just two nautical miles away. But the vessel failed to respond to requests for communication, and was moving away from the scene.

On Sunday, asked the police whether there have been an autonomous disembarkation, with the police spokesperson saying there was no such case this year. This was done after Alarm Phone said it lost track of the rubber boat.

Sea-Watch later shared photos showing the asylum seekers wearing life jackets. The rubber boat was spotted again on Saturday at 4.07pm when it was 13 nautical miles off the Maltese territorial waters. The NGO pointed out that unlike the first time, the asylum seekers were wearing life jackets.

In its tweet, Sea-Watch tagged the Armed Forces of Malta and stated that it was not enough distributing life jackets but the people on board had to be rescued and brought to a safe port.