With reference to the reports and allegations regarding a boat left adrift in Malta’s Search and Rescue Region, the Armed Forces of Malta confirms that the migrants concerned have safely reached Italian territory within hours of the boat being alleged to be adrift.
Search and Rescue operations are coordinated in accordance with the applicable international conventions, regulations and through the competent authority. It is additionally clarified that not every migrant boat on the high seas amounts automatically to a case of distress. There are various instances where migrant boats in international waters do not require assistance and express intent to proceed autonomously to their intended destination.
Rescue Coordination Centre Malta closely monitors all cases. Contrary to allegations in the local media on this particular case, the migrants on board repeatedly reiterated their intention to continue proceeding towards their intended destination. Indeed, this particular boat, and others, reached safely their intended destination, and on their own steam. Nevertheless, as with all cases, the competent authorities exercised the duty of care, as evidenced by the below photograph taken moments prior to the boat’s entry in Italian territory. The boat in the image reproduced hereunder, powered by two outboard engines and on a steady course and speed, is the same boat being portrayed by some media outlets as adrift at sea. Therefore, allegations of boats sinking, left adrift, or rescues being hindered are false and unfounded. While some NGOs have lost sight of the boat, it is evident that this was not the case for local authorities who maintained the duty of care.
The Armed Forces of Malta regrets to note that this is not the first instance where some NGOs divulge false and incorrect information, which not only raise undue concerns among the general public but also divert national resources from other cases which are actually in real distress. Illegal border crossings involving migrants who transit through Malta’s Search and Rescue Region/international waters to reach Italy are not uncommon.
Report and image: AFM