Over 3,500 sign petition; People take campaign online demanding rescue


Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Over 3,500 individuals have signed an online petition calling on Prime Minister Robert Abela to rescue asylum seekers who are currently stranded in the Maltese search and rescue region.

The online petition refers to the 47 individuals who remain on board a Spanish search and rescue vessel, Aita Mari, operated by Salvamento Maritimo Humanitario. The vessel after rescuing the group was not assigned a port of safety where they could disembark the asylum seekers.

It is not known what happened to 55 asylum seekers who were on board a rubber boat in the Maltese search and rescue region and the authorities have been silent on the case.

Italy and Malta have both declared their ports to be unsafe due to the coronavirus outbreak. Libya on the other hand said it would not accept returned migrants.

Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo also spoke to the EU High Representative Josep Borrell, claiming that civil search and rescue NGOs were enabling human smugglers in Libya to send out asylum seekers at sea.

Over 300 academics have called on the government to intervene and rescue those at sea.

Online campaign

Started by aditus Foundation, many have taken to post selfies holding a placard with #DontLetThemDrown and #AllLivesMatter.

While Malta is under partial lockdown and gatherings of over three individuals have been banned due to the coronavirus pandemic, people have found an alternative means to voice their concerns about the wellbeing of the asylum seekers who remain adrift in the Maltese search and rescue area.

Those participating in the online campaign are also tagging Prime Minister Robert Abela and Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri.

Earlier on Tuesday, popular TV and radio presenter Peppi Azzopardi wrote to Prime Minister Robert Abela pledging to welcome people rescued at his house. He said that there were others who were interested participating in this initiative and urged others who might be interested to get in touch.

MP Marlene Farrugia and restaurateur Claude Camilleri have both joined Azzopardi’s initiative.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna reminded that saving lives and securing them in a safe place is a fundamental legal obligation. He called it a moral necessity that cannot be negotiated or removed.