A group of some 60  migrants, including 13 women and six children, is stranded in Malta’s search and rescue zone, according to a voluntary  emergency rescue hotline service.

NGO Alarm Phone tweeted on Wednesday that the vessel had entered Maltese waters between Tuesday night and the early hours of Wednesday morning. 

Alarm Phone also said it had reached out to the Armed Forces to relay coordinates, however the AFM was allegedly non-responsive to calls and emails.

"Authorities are informed. Do not let them drown and starve to death as you did with another migrant group two weeks ago!” the NGO said.  

Malta and Italy have both closed their harbour to migrant arrivals. Malta has also told the EU that it cannot guarantee rescues, because its resources are stretched by COVID-19 measures, although it will carry out rescue coordination.

Migrants left Libya on Monday 

Meanwhile, sources involved in the sector told Times of Malta that the migrants were believed to have departed from the coast of Libya on Monday night.     

The sources said that the EU’s borders agency Frontex was informed, and a surveillance flight was deployed to establish visual confirmation of the migrant boat - a crowded dinghy.  

The situation in the central Mediterranean migration route has become increasingly fraught in recent weeks after both Malta and Italy declared their ports unsafe for migrant disembarkation.  

Earlier this month a group of migrants adrift in Maltese waters were returned to Libya by a privately owned fishing vessel that sources say had been commissioned by the Maltese authorities for assistance. At least five migrants had died waiting for assistance, with a further seven unaccounted for.  




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