Child asylum seekers rescued by the Aquarius sea rescue vessel have told crew members they were kidnapped and faced extortion, according to Doctors Without Borders.
The NGO, which jointly operates the vessel together with SOS Mediterranee, said that crew members had heard disturbing accounts of kidnapping and extortion from minors rescued last Friday.
“I begged my captors to kill me,” one teenager allegedly told them.
Scores of minors, including 38 unaccompanied children under 15, are believed to be among 141 people aboard the Aquarius, which is expected to dock in Malta at 1.30pm on Wednesday after accepting the Maltese government’s offer to dock at Boilers Wharf in Senglea.
After disembarkation, migrants will be registered and medically screened. They will then be taken to a reception centre in Marsa, to be eventually distributed among five other EU member states.
Malta announced the arrangement on Tuesday, saying that it had secured agreement with five countries to take in the rescued migrants after they disembarked in Malta.
France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain have all agreed to the ad hoc deal, the Office of the Prime Minister said on Tuesday.
#MSF team on #Aquarius hearing disturbing accounts of kidnapping and extortion suffered by child #refugees in #Libya. "I begged my captors to just kill me" said one teenager who spent 3 years in #Libya arriving when he was just 14. pic.twitter.com/OawONSUzwa— MSF Sea (@MSF_Sea) August 14, 2018
French President Emmanuel Macron and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez were among the leaders to thank Malta for having secured the agreement and helped resolve the impasse.
The Aquarius has been stuck at sea since Friday, when it conducted two separate rescues off the Libyan coast.
Italy was adamant it would have nothing to do with the rescue vessel, with Home Affairs minister Matteo Salvini tweeting “It can go where it wants, not in Italy!”
Malta had initially said that it had nothing to do with the rescue mission or the vessel, only to then announce the EU deal on Tuesday.
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