‘People have been deprived of their rights for 3 weeks’; MEPs urge government to end migrant stand off

Twitter / Sea Watch

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

A group of MEPs have urged the Maltese government to allow the disembarkation of asylum seekers who were rescued at sea.

The letter which was published by German humanitarian NGO Sea Watch was led by German MEP Dietmar Köster, and addressed to Prime Minister Robert Abela and Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri. Signed by a total of 29 MEPs from three different political groupings including the Socialists and Democrats, the political family of which Partit Laburista forms part of, the MEPs have urged the government to put an end to the “longest” stand-off in the history of search and rescue.

27 people were rescued by the Danish-flagged Maersk Etienne on 5 August. Since then, the people have been left detained on the tanker awaiting a port of safety.

The MEPs highlighted that since the Maltese search and rescue coordination centre was in charge of the rescue operation, under international law, it was duty bound to provide a port of safety.

The MEPs expressed their concern for the asylum seekers on board, noting that neither the vessel nor the crew were equipped or prepared to handle the situation.

“The people are deprived of their fundamental human rights for three weeks now,” the MEPs said.

The MEPs demanded that the government puts an immediate end to the current stand off, as they ensured their support in helping the government secure the relocation of the people rescued among EU member states.

The signatories come from the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group, the alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament and Greens/EFA. Among those who signed the letter is an Italian doctor from Lampedusa, MEP Pietro Bartolo.

Libyan Coast Guard vessel in Maltese search and rescue zone

The German humanitarian NGO Sea Watch that operates Moonbird, a reconnaissance aircraft, said that its aircraft has spotted a wooden boat carrying around 30 asylum seekers in Maltese search and rescue zone.

The non-governmental organisation said that a vessel which belongs to the Libyan Coast Guard was making its way to the Maltese search and rescue to intercept the asylum seekers and push them back illegally.

This newsroom is informed that patrol boat 206, Al Khifa, was observed sailing towards the wooden boat’s position. The asylum seekers were already inside the Maltese search and rescue zone when the Libyan Coast Guard got close to the boat. The interception happened at about 8 nautical miles inside the area for which Malta is responsible.