Secret Agreement Between Armed Forces of Malta and Libyan Coastguard to Intercept Migrant Vessels Sailing Towards Maltese SAR Zone

The Sunday Times of Malta reported yesterday that “Malta has secretly negotiated an agreement with Libya that sees the Armed Forces of Malta [AFM] coordinating with the Libyan coastguard to intercept migrants headed towards the island… [A] senior government source [said] … ‘We reached what you could call an understanding with the Libyans. When there is a vessel heading towards our waters, the AFM coordinates with the Libyans who pick them up and take them back to Libya before they come into our waters and become our responsibility[.]’ … A spokesman for UNHCR office in Rome said they had reached out to the Maltese authorities for an explanation and were still waiting for the relevant information to be handed over….”  Reuters reported that “The Malta deal appears to go a step further by encouraging the Libyan coastguard to intervene beyond its own coastal waters, which extend some 22.2 km (14 miles) from its shore, and into the broad search-and-rescue zone operated by Malta.”

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