An NGO rescue vessel has intervened to assist migrants stranded in Maltese waters, sources have told Times of Malta.
The former fishing vessel operated by Spanish NGO Salvamento Marítimo Humanitario is understood to have been granted permission by the Maltese authorities to provide water, food, and life jackets to a crowded dingy carrying some 47 migrants on Monday.
The migrants have been stranded in the Maltese search and rescue area since last week, and have been pleading with the authorities for aid.
UPDATE AITAMARI: el primer bote ha sido localizado. Las autoridades han sido avisadas. El AitaMari se mantiene a la espera de instrucciones de las autoridades competentes.the first boat has been located. Authorities have been notified. The AitaMari is awaiting instructions.— SMH (@smhumanitario) April 13, 2020
Sources said the Aita Mari had left from the Sicilian port of Syracuse on Sunday and although they were meant to depart for Spain, had instead gone to the aid of the desperate migrants.
Search and rescue sources said that migrants had already started being transferred onto the Aita Mari at 12.15pm on Monday.
The mission, the sources said, would likely see a fresh stand-off as the rescue boat was expected to request to disembark the migrants in either Malta or Italy.
Last week both countries declared their ports closed to migrant rescues, citing the COVID-19 outbreak as the determining factor.
Meanwhile, the EU’s border monitoring agency Frontex is running a flight in search of the a migrant boat that is unaccounted for. The flight took off from Malta on Monday morning.