Maltese authorities rescued a group of 140 migrants from a sinking boat on Friday. However, the migrants were not brought ashore but were held on a chartered tourist harbor cruise boat just outside the country’s territorial waters.
The rescue was conducted by a Maltese patrol boat after the dinghy drifted into Malta’s search and rescue region. The migrants were transferred to one three tourist boats chartered for the same purpose by the government. The government is holing another 160 migrants in the other boats.
Malta’s Foreign Minister, Evarist Bartolo, said the country’s migration centres are currently holding twice the number of people they were designed for. “We want to protect the rights of people seeking protection, but we can only do so much. We are being left alone. Words of sympathy are not enough; we need practical help,” Bartolo said, referring to the EU.