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Malta rejects African immigrants--Italy comes to their rescue

african migrants

Pope Francis prays for African migrants. Courtesy photo United Nations

by Joseph Earnest  August 7, 2013


Newscast Media ROME, ItalyAfter Malta denied entry to a group of migrants rescued by a tanker from the Mediterranean, Italy has stepped in and will allow the boat carrying the migrants to land. Malta's refusal defied requests by the EU.

Early on Wednesday, the Italian government announced that a tanker ship carrying a group of African migrants would be allowed to dock in Italy. The migrants would be allowed entry into Italy for three days.

The 102 migrants – mostly from northern Africa, were picked up by the tanker on Sunday night from a small boat. The oil tanker, the Liberian-flagged MV Salamis, reportedly ignored orders to sail to Libya, which Malta has said was the closest port of safety at the time of the rescue.

The tanker's captain ignored these orders continued toward Malta, the ship's original destination, where it was stopped before entering Maltese territorial waters. The government in Valetta (the Maltest capital, pictured above) then forced the ship to remain at anchor, insisting that the refugees were no longer at risk.

"We have a captain who ignores his obligations... He did not take into account the orders of a sovereign state," Maltese Interior Minister Manuel Mallia told a press conference.

But EU Home Affairs Minister Cecilia Malmstrom urged Malta to allow the migrants to disembark, adding that those on board included four pregnant women, one injured woman, and a five-month-old baby.

Maltese doctors visiting the ship determined there were no urgent medical needs for any of the passengers on board.

"The master of the ship M/V Salamis has fulfilled his humanitarian duties to save the lives of 102 people on the high sea," Malmstrom said in a statement on Tuesday. "It is first and foremost important to save the lives of the rescued persons. Any dispute about the responsible search and rescue authority, including the involvement of the Italian and Libyan authorities … should be clarified at a later stage."

In early July, Pope Francis cast a wreath at a fishing harbor on the Italian island of Lampedusa and called for an end to what he called global indifference to the plight of refugees. He also paid tribute to the hundreds who drown every year while trying to reach Europe, saying consciences must be "reawakened."    Add Comments>>

 Source: Radio Deutsche Welle








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