90 migrants rescued, 27 allowed to disembark in Malta

FILE PHOTO: An Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) patrol boat carrying rescued migrants arrives at the AFM's base at Haywharf in Valletta's Marsamxett Harbour, Malta March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

A group of 27 migrants, consisting of minors and women, were allowed to disembark in Malta on Tuesday night after being rescued, the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) said Wednesday in a statement.

The group formed part of a boatload of around 90 persons who were rescued when they were in distress in Malta’s search and rescue zone.

The minors and women were allowed to disembark in Malta “for humanitarian reason,” the AFM statement said. The rest were transferred from the AFM patrol boat to one of the three Captain Morgan tourist boats being used to house migrants just outside Malta’s territorial waters.

Malta closed its ports to asylum seekers in April and told the European Union it could not guarantee the resources needed to conduct rescues at sea because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following its decision to close its ports, the government still wanted to live up to its international obligations to rescue people at sea who were in distress, said the statement.

Since April 30, Malta has chartered three Captain Morgan tourist boats and currently there are just over 350 migrants on board the three ferries.