Maltese patrol boats have not been picking up migrants at sea because the migrants themselves refuse to be rescued by Maltese boats, the commander of the AFM’s maritime unit, Lt Col Andrew Mallia has been quoted as saying by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
He said that whenever Maltese patrol boats intercepted migrants’ boats the migrants invariably refused help.
He explained that the migrants did not want to come to Malta because that would make it difficult for them to proceed to Northern Europe.
Once the interceptions were made in international waters and as long as the migrants were safe, their boats had right of passage and could refuse assistance, Col Mallia said. Maltese boats often stand by and monitor the boats in case they faced an emergency.
The situation changed if the boats were found in Maltese waters, Col Mallia said.