#EUROPEBYSEA: Italy, Malta Turn Back Ship Carrying Migrants
Anyone preparing to make a journey to Europe by land should read this before getting on the first bus.
It is becoming more difficult to get to Europe through illegal means and taking that route now will just end in spending months on the Mediterranean Sea.
Italy and Malta have turned back a ship carrying hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers.
Malta’s ports will not take in the Acquarius vessel with the migrants that have been stranded in the Mediterranean after the Italian authorities earlier refused to accept it.
Since Friday, they have been in the ship praying that God will touch the heart of one of the countries to accept them.
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The German branch of the SOS Mediterranee NGO has been rescuing migrants and asylum seekers in the Mediterranean and taking them on board Acquarius.
The vessel, now carrying 629 people, has been ordered by the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre late on Sunday to stand put 35 nautical miles from Italy and 27 nautical miles from Malta.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Monday: “I took a call from Italy PM Giuseppe Conte to discuss Acquarius issue. Malta is in full conformity with international obligations and will not take the vessel in its ports.
“We will continue, where possible, carrying out individual and humanitarian emergency medical evacuations,” Muscat wrote on Twitter.
The Maltese prime minister also expressed concern over the Italian authorities’ directions given to the Aquarius vessel, adding that such policies contradicted international norms, and might lead to dangerous developments.
The rescuers say those on board Acquarius include 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 children, and 7 pregnant women.
Under the international law, people rescued in the sea should be brought to the closest and safest port for assistance.
The Maltese authorities have been insisting that since the rescue happened in the Libyan search and rescue area and was coordinated from Rome, Malta is neither the coordinating authority, nor has the competence to settle this issue, thus it would not take in the migrants and asylum seekers.
Local media have been suggesting that by instructing Acquarius to stand by its current position in deep waters, new Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who had been criticising NGOs for carrying out the role of taxis for migrants, has started implementing anti-migrant policies.