A group of 265 migrants, 96 of which were rescued in Malta’s search-and-rescue (SAR) zone, will be taken to Sicily after Maltese authorities allegedly ignored distress calls, according to the NGO Open Arms.
Italian Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli on Sunday called for sanctions against Malta, accusing it of not rescuing refugee boats in the Mediterranean and leaving the burden to Italy, in the latest row between the two countries over the issue.
The Mediterranean rescue ship Aquarius arrived at Valletta harbor in Malta on Wednesday to disembark 141 migrants, ending a five-day tug-of-war between European Union countries which had seen the vessel banned from docking in several ports.
For the second time in a week, Malta has detained a humanitarian vessel that normally rescues boat refugees off the coast of Libya, where two shipwrecks have claimed the lives of as many as 200 people in recent days.
The Italian government has once again closed the country’s sea ports to a rescue boat carrying 60 refugees stranded at sea off Libya, igniting yet another dispute with Malta over who should allow the boat to dock.
Malta Freeport has renewed its contracts with Iran’s Hafiz Darya Shipping Lines (HDS) amid rising anticipation that sanctions will be removed on Tehran later this year, the national paper Times of Malta has reported.