On Thursday last week, a Maltese AFM patrol boat searching for survivors from Wednesday’s sinking of the migrant boat near Lampedusa encountered another migrant boat with 171 migrants and removed the migrants from the overcrowded boat. The rescue occurred approximately 54 nautical miles from Lampedusa and 91 nautical miles from Malta. The Maltese patrol boat attempted to disembark the migrants at the closer port in Lampedusa but was denied entry into the port. The migrants were then taken to Malta – an eight hour sail from Lampedusa. Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, Malta’s Interior Minister, accused Italy of reneging on its “legal and humanitarian obligations” due to its failure to allow the migrants to be taken to the closer port. The migrants involved have said they are Eritrean and Libyan. If accurate, these may be the first Libyans to have been detected leaving by sea.
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