09. November 2012 · Kommentare deaktiviert für Malta SOS aktuell · Kategorien: Malta · Tags: ,

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Friday, November 9, 2012 by Ivan Camilleri

AFM keeps watch on migrants’ boat

The armed forces last night confirmed they were closely monitoring the situation of a boatload of migrants, which according to sources launched distress calls while in Malta’s search and rescue area (SAR) yesterday afternoon.

Some Italian media reports put the number aboard the boat at 300, who were mainly Eritreans, saying they raised the alarm through a satellite phone call to a priest in Italy, who informed the Italian coast guard.
Sources told timesofmalta.com that some distress calls were also made to Africans residing in Malta.
Italian media claimed the migrants should be taken to Malta but last night it could not be established whether the boat was located closer to Maltese or Italian shores.
A spokesman for the AFM told The Times: “As a matter of policy we don’t give any information to the media while an operation is ongoing.”
He refused to provide details about the location of the boat or confirm whether it was in distress. But he said the AFM was prepared to intervene if the situation deteriorated.
Malta and Italy disagree over the interpretation of inter-national maritime laws in these circumstances.
Malta holds that migrants saved at sea should be taken to the nearest safe port, while Italy insists that the country responsible for the SAR area should take responsibility for all migrants saved in the area.
Malta is responsible for a vast SAR tract in the Mediterranean.
Yesterday morning about 81 migrants landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa – the second arrival in as many days.
The operation was coordinated by an AFM aircraft even though the migrants were saved by the Italian coast guard.
Last Sunday the AFM brought 71 migrants safely to Malta.
Answering a parliamentary question earlier this week, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said 1,567 irregular migrants reached Maltese shores this year up to the end of September.

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