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Malta rejects claim it does not answer boat people distress calls
Published in Bikya Masr on 18 - 03 - 2012

VALLETTA, MALTA (dpa): The Maltese army on Sunday rejected claims made by the Italian media that it was refusing to answer to distress calls from asylum seekers fleeing Libya by sea.
Such reports were both incorrect and misleading, the army said in a statement that reacted to reports after several African migrants landed on the Italian islet of Lampedusa over recent days.
When Malta was notified of such cases, it deployed an aerial surveillance aircraft as well as patrol vessels, the army said.
“Communication channels between the Maltese authorities and other rescue coordination centres were always open, and remained so,” it added.
Meanwhile, Malta said that a French-registered Tunisian fishing-vessel with 74 rescued migrants remained outside Italian territorial waters off Lampedusa.
The migrants were refused disembarkation on Saturday, with the Italian authorities claiming the island was not a safe port.
As the wintry seas calm down, Malta and Italy appear to be heading towards another war of words over who is responsible for rescuing migrants fleeing the African continent.
ShortURL: http://goo.gl/SkMvM
Tags: African Immigrants, Boat People, Malta
Section: Human Rights, International, Latest News, North Africa

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