Creating new perspectives since 2009

MSF: 440 migrants rescued from overcrowded boat off Malta

April 6, 2023 at 8:45 am

440 migrants rescued from overcrowded boat off Malta on 4 April, 2023 [@MSF_Sea/Twitter]

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said yesterday that it had rescued 440 migrants from an overcrowded fishing boat in international waters off the coast of Malta, after trying to carry out the rescue for more than 11 hours

The organisation said its ship, the GeoBarents, had struggled with the rescue due to bad weather, explaining that at first it could do nothing but throw life jackets to the migrants.

Two days ago, Alarm Phone, a charity that receives distress calls from migrant boats in the Mediterranean, warned that the boat was in distress.

“After more than 11 hours of operation, the rescue is now over and a total of 440 people, including 8 women and 30 children, are now safely aboard #GeoBarents and being cared for by the team,” MSF wrote on Twitter.

An MSF spokesperson, Flavia Pergola, said the rescued migrants had spent four days at sea, including two without food or water, after the boat set off from eastern Libya near Benghazi on 1 April. She noted that a migrant had fainted as a result of severe dehydration and was transferred by helicopter to Malta.

The migrants are from Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, Somalia and Sri Lanka, and are due to be transferred to Italy.

Italy is facing an increase in the number of migrants arriving by sea from North Africa. During the first months of this year, the number of migrants arriving in Italy reached more than 28,000, compared to about 6,800 migrants recorded in the same period last year.

On Monday, the Italian Coast Guard carried out a difficult rescue operation by helicopter and managed to pull out 32 migrants who were stranded on a small island near the island of Lampedusa.