Malta is refusing to allow the disembarkation of 52 migrants rescued by a vessel registered as a livestock carrier, until it has guarantees from other EU member states on their immediate relocation, sources close to the government told Times of Malta. 

The Talia with the migrants on board is currently south of Malta, sheltering from rough seas. 

The vessel was directed to rescue the migrants in distress by Malta’s rescue coordination centre on Friday and Saturday, according to NGO Alarm Phone, which claimed that Malta’s armed forces hung up the phone “repeatedly” as members of a migrant rescue hotline tried to alert them to the people in distress at sea.

The Talia was denied permission to enter Italian territorial waters by Lampedusa authorities.

A source close to the government confirmed on Sunday that the Talia had not been granted permission to disembark the migrants although a special concession was made to allow it to enter Maltese territorial waters to shelter. 

In a Tweet on Sunday morning, the NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans said a good number of the migrants on board the Talia are in dire need of medical assistance after spending days on board the vessel without food or water. It called on the Maltese authorities to allow their immediate disembarkation.

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