Three “suicidal” migrants were evacuated from NGO rescue vessel Alan Kurdi in the early hours of Monday morning, as a stand-off between the ship and the Maltese authorities dragged on.
A spokeswoman for the Armed Forces of Malta said the migrants arrived in Malta on board an AFM vessel at around 4.30am.
All three were “minors, and all suicidal”, according to photojournalist Darrin Zammit Lupi, who is aboard the vessel.
The Alan Kurdi has been stuck at sea outside Malta for several days, with the NGO which operates it, Sea-Eye, even taking to the Maltese courts in a bid to force the government to bring the migrants to shore.
It is the third such evacuation by Maltese authorities in the past days.
Between Thursday and Friday of last week five people, four of them youngsters, were evacuated to Malta after medical staff aboard the ship sounded the alarm about their deteriorating health and signs of several anxiety.
On Sunday the NGO said that another one of the migrants, who does not know how to swim, attempted to jump overboard. The NGO has considered this a suicide attempt.
An AFM spokesperson told Times of Malta on Sunday evening that they were "following instructions from higher up" in declining to rescue the eight people that remained aboard the Alan Kurdi.
Five people of the 13 originally rescued by ship now remain aboard.
Italy and Malta have clamped down on humanitarian vessels amid continuous indecision at EU level over who is to assume responsibility for migrants rescued at sea.
'Malta is playing a power game'
A Sea-Eye spokesman said that the past week's evacuations had taken their toll on people aboard the ship.
"All of them are really close to a psychological breakdown, confirmed by our doctor," they said.
"They don't understand why this is happening and why they are not being provided with a safe port. It seems obvious that Malta wants to escalate the situation. Malta is playing a power game with the lives of young people rescued at sea," the spokesman added.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us