Less than two days after the humanitarian crisis involving 141 immigrants on the so called rescue ship AQUARIUS was settled, during the last hours another situation has arisen concerning a further 170 immigrants on board the Italian coastguard vessel CP 941 UBALDO DICIOTTI which is nearby Lampedusa awaiting instructions from the Italian authorities.
It appears that once more Italian authorities want Malta to assume responsibility for them because they crossed Malta’s SAR zone. The Malta Government is insisting that at no time was assistance requested and the immigrants insisted on continuing their voyage further.
While two volunteer rescue vessels have been detained in Malta it seems that their non-operation on the edge of the search and rescue zone is leading to immigrant boats determined to continue with their journey. This latest case began on Thursday when according to Government sources the boat refused assistance from an AFM vessel in the search and rescue zone that falls under Malta’s responsibility and according to navigational rights the boat had to be allowed to continue its journey towards Italy.
According to the Malta Government the MRCC (Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre) showed no interest whatsoever in the boat that was eventually intercepted by Italian coastguards in the Malta rescue zone to prevent it entering the Italian rescue zone. According to Malta Government sources this does not qualify as being a rescue.
The Malta Government said that if however the Italian Government accepts this to have been a rescue mission, the immigrants on the vessel CP 941 UBALDO DICIOTTI are nearer Lampedusa than Malta and therefore they should be allowed to disembark there. While this highly appears to be heading towards a diplomatic dispute at European level, the Malta Government said that the relocation process of the immigrants that were on the ships LIFELINE and AQUARIUS and were allowed to disembark in Malta is underway to seven European countries that have agreed to host them under the achieved agreement.
Both vessels LIFELINE and AQUARIUS are not registered to operate as Rescue Vessels.
Below are images of Guardia Costiera OPV CP 941 UBALDO DICIOTTI whilst berthed at Malta back to 21st March, 2015 –
Photos by Capt. Lawrence Dalli. Do not use these images without my permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos – www.maltashipphotos.com