HUNDREDS of migrants are being housed on pleasure boats off the coast of Malta while waiting for EU countries to take them in.
The Maltese government has chartered multiple vessels – including Captain Morgan boats loved by tourists – to hold those rescued at sea by the country’s military.
Hundreds of migrants are now living on pleasure boats off the coast of Malta[/caption]
The move came after Malta closed off its ports to asylum seekers citing health concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic.
Another well-known operator – Supreme Cruises – has also been commissioned to supply at least one boat for the desperate migrants.
A spokesman for the company said the ‘Jade’ was being loaded with supplies before it leaves for its destination 13 nautical miles east of Valletta.
It is licensed to carry up to 500 passengers but that number is calculated for a harbour cruise or a day trip to Comino or around Gozo.
The boat can take up to 250 mattresses for people to sleep on, reports the Times of Malta.
It will be located close to the three Captain Morgan Cruises vessels which currently have just over 350 people on board.
Captain Morgan boats loved by tourists have been chartered by the state[/caption]
The boats are being held just outside Malta’s territorial waters[/caption]
They are being held just outside Malta’s territorial waters awaiting for EU countries to offer to take those on board in.
Images show bored looking men drying their laundry on the decks of the boats – which normally carry holidaymakers.
The migrants were rescued from the boats of human traffickers in several operations carried out in the Mediterranean since late April.
And boat operators in Malta have revealed they have already been asked about the availability of more vessels.
Many see that as a sign the country is preparing for more arrivals as the good weather tends to encourage people to leave Libya for Europe.
Two weeks ago a group of migrants – all men – were rescued by the The Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) and were transferred to a packed Captain Morgan vessel until the arrival of a new boat.
The migrants were rescued from human traffickers’ flimsy boats[/caption]
The boats can take up to 250 mattresses for people to sleep on[/caption]
They had received a distress call from a struggling vessel carrying approximately 80 people who had left Libya bound for Europe.
Just 24 hours earlier 90 migrants – including 27 women and children – were allowed to disembark on Malta.
Those considered vulnerable were allowed to stay on dry land “for humanitarian reasons” while the rest were transferred from to one of the tourist boats.
Last month it was claimed the AFM turned away one boat carrying migrants at gunpoint after giving them fuel and the GPS coordinates to reach Italy.
MOST READ IN NEWS
HAND OF FRIENDSHIP
PM to offer refuge to 3m from Hong Kong if China strips them of freedoms
Many of the migrants leapt into the water to try to reach the military boat, mistakenly thinking they were being rescued.
“They gave us red life vests, a new engine and fuel and told us they would show us the route to Italy,” one passenger told the Guardian.
“Then they pointed guns at us and said: ‘We give you 30 minutes’.”
Source : thesun.co.uk/