Malta has offered to disembark 39 migrants who were rescued within the island’s search and rescue region last night but the NGO Open Arms vessel has insisted that the government also accept another 121 migrants who were found outside the zone several days ago.
The 121 migrants in question were rescued over a week ago but their rescue vessel has been stuck at sea between Malta and Lampedusa, as Italy refuses to take them in. The Italian government has threatened a fine of €50,000 and the seizure of the Open Arms ship if it docks.
Hollywood superstar Richard Gere boarded the ship to draw international attention to the humanitarian issue.
“Malta can only shoulder its own responsibility since other solutions are not forthcoming,” the government said in a press statement this morning.
The government said the 39 migrants were rescued by Open Arms under the coordination of the Rescue Coordination Centre of Malta, adding that an Armed Forces of Malta operation was already underway to carry out the rescue since the migrants were in an area of Malta’s responsibility.