The first group of rescued migrants for 2012 arrived in Malta on 15 January after being rescued by an Armed Forces of Malta patrol boat and an Italian cargo ship. The 68 rescued migrants are Somali asylum seekers and had left Libya four days earlier. Another boat carrying 72 migrants was rescued by the Italian coastguard on the 13th. This boat is also believed to have departed from Libya. UNHCR officials have interviewed the asylum seekers in Malta: “The new arrivals confirmed to UNHCR that the situation in Libya is still not stable and that it is particularly precarious for Sub-Saharan nationals. One Somali woman told UNHCR that they were afraid to go outside the house. Some even described the situation in parts of Libya as being similar to the lawlessness of Somalia. They explained that smugglers provided them with the only possible way out at this point.” The Times of Malta reported that two of the asylum seekers said “they paid armed Libyan militiamen $400 each to facilitate their crossing of the Mediterranean.”
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