Dozens of irregular migrants have been stranded in the Mediterranean Sea in Malta’s search and rescue zone for over 30 hours, the UN migration organization said Monday.
Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), cited a tweet by Alarm Phone, a group monitoring migrant crossings across the Mediterranean Sea, calling on authorities to rescue the 95 migrants fleeing from Africa to Europe.
“Let’s remember that these boats are unsafe and unfit for navigation and that they should be always considered as boats in distress, since they can sink at any moment,” wrote Giacomo, who works in the IOM’s Coordination Office for the Mediterranean.
Alarm Phone also wrote that a merchant vessel was monitoring the situation but not providing assistance.
“How long will the people be left suffering & at risk of drowning? How long can they survive?” it asked.
Migrant crisis in Mediterranean
The Mediterranean is the most preferred route by migrants from Africa, mostly from Libya, who are trying to cross Europe through Italy and Malta.
Crossings significantly increase over the summer months, while NGOs from different countries engage in several rescue operations in the sea.
Malta has been slow to take asylum seekers and migrants in since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. But heightened measures have not stopped migrants from coming.
The Maltese government also accuses its European counterparts of failing to keep their promises to take in migrants rescued at sea.
Arrivals of migrants in Malta have increased this year, with around 1,135 people entering as of March, compared to 136 at this point in 2019, according to the UN.
* Writing by Iclal Turan from Ankara
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