Migrants refuse AFM assistance, insist on going to Lampedusa, government says

The Government of Malta confirmed that the Italian Rescue Co-ordination centre has no legal claim to ask Malta to provide a safe port for this boat, with Lampedusa being the safest port 

(Photo: File)
(Photo: File)

A boat carrying migrants has refused assistance from an Armed Forces of Malta naval asset, which was continuously monitoring the boat throughout their journey within Maltese Search and Rescue Region, the government confirmed.

In an official statement released on Thursday, the Government of Malta said that the boat passed the Maltese Seach and Rescue Region, making Lampedusa the safest port.  

The government said that the boat was intercepted by the Italian Coast Guard and Italian naval assets contributing to the Frontex “Operation Themis” on high seas, when the boat was making its way safely towards Lampedusa, exercising its right of freedom of navigation on the high seas.

The boat was streaming without elements of distress, according to the statement.

“The migrants insisted that they did not require assistance and wanted to continue heading towards their intended final destination, namely Italy. Hence, the AFM continued to monitor the boat to fulfil a duty for care.”

The government said that the Italian Rescue Co-ordination centre has no legal claim to ask Malta to provide a safe port for this boat.

The government commented on the lack of interest shown by the Rome Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre o when the boat was still in Libya’s Search and Rescue zone.

“The Rome Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre showed no interest about the safety of migrants when the boat was in Libya’s Search and Rescue Region and were inconsistent with efforts to provide assistance between one Search and Rescue Region and another, when the situation on board remained the same,” it said.

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