Army saves 118 drowning migrants in Malta's search and rescue zone

Group includes 10 women, five children and a baby

Thu, Aug 20th 2020, 19:34 Last updated on 20/8/20

The Armed Forces “have been constrained” to save 118 irregular migrants who were drowning in Malta’s search and rescue zone, the Home Affairs Ministry said.

It said in a statement the group included 10 women, a baby, and five children.

Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri said that in the first seven months of this year Libyan authorities had intercepted 7,000 migrants trying to leave the country.

So the government was committed to continue to cooperate with the Libyan authorities to prevent more arrivals and deaths in the Mediterranean.

The United Nations on Wednesday lamented that responsibility for rescues was increasingly being left to Libyan state vessels. They said that any assistance and responsibilities assigned to Libyan search and rescue entities should be made conditional on no-one being arbitrarily detained, ill-treated or subjected to human rights violations post-disembarkation.

It said that 45 migrants and refugees perished off Libya this week.

Photo: MHSE

Camilleri said one of the government’s priorities, he said, was to strengthen the return system and it was taking steps for those who did not deserve to stay to be sent back.

It was also working on the relocation of migrants to other EU states.

In fact, 450 migrants were not to be relocated with a considerable number being sent in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, 27 migrants aboard the oil tanker Maersk Etienne, which was sent to rescue them two weeks ago, await their fate.