A total of 106 people, including 22 unaccompanied minors who were left stranded at sea after Malta refused to help, arrived off Sicily on Saturday. 

The vessel, which had been refused disembarkation in Malta, a Sea Eye representative confirmed with Times of Malta

“We are now waiting for the assignment of a safe place for the 106 survivors and hope it will take only a few more hours,” a Sea-Eye representative said.

On Thursday, days before the arrival of Pope Francis, the NGO appealed to Malta to take the migrants, who left Libya on Sunday.

The issue of migration is the main focus of the visit of the Pope, who will be visiting the ─Žal Far laboratory later on Sunday. 

Sea-Eye is a non-profit and civil sea rescue organisation that was founded in Germany. 

On Friday,  Times of Malta was informed that Malta’s armed forces told the Sea-Eye 4 that Malta was neither the “competent nor the coordinate authority” responsible for these asylum seekers. 

The Malta Rescue Coordination Centre urged Sea-Eye 4 to call on its flag state -Germany - for assistance. It added that the vessel should have drawn up a disembarkation plan with its flag authorities,  and since it did not make any such arrangements, Germany, was by default, the place of safety it should head to. 

A Sea-Eye spokesperson said: "You should know that the German Rescue Coordination Centre is always in cc (copied in) and forward these emails to the Foreign Office. That’s because they think it’s a political problem." 

An Armed Forces of Malta spokesperson said they had no further information and any questions should be directed to the ministry. 

On Friday, Sea-Eye directed a question to  Prime Minister Robert Abela, asking him how he would be able to look the pope in the eyes after not rescuing the migrants. 

The people rescued are from Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, and Syria. The 22 minors were rescued over two operations. A group of 32 people were taken over by the Sea-Eye 4  from the container ship Karina on Tuesday. They had been rescued from a small fishing boat in four-metre waves.

The Sea-Eye 4 then received a distress call on Wednesday afternoon. After several hours of sailing, the vessel found a grey rubber boat with 74 people, including children.

 

 

 

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