Livestock carrier Talia (IMO 7910888) received permission on Tuesday July 7th to transfer 50 rescued migrants to the custody of Maltese immigration officials.
The vessel had picked up migrants south of Lampedusa, Italy on July 3rd while in ballast, only to find that there was nowhere for them to be unloaded. The crew thought that all of the migrants would be taken on board by a Maltese Naval Patrol vessel, but this did not occur. Italy also rejected entry. The ship then halted at a Malta outer anchorage.
The ship was not in an ideal state to receive passengers, having just offloaded a livestock cargo in Libya, and her decks had not been fully cleaned, the vessel’s Captain Mohammad Shaaban told the media.
After stopping outside Maltese territorial waters, weather conditions worsened, forcing the crew to relocate the migrants from the weather deck onto deck six, one of the ship’s livestock decks. After an appeal, Maltese officials allowed the Talia to move temporarily to an anchorage just offshore, in order to ride out the storm.
Two of the survivors had medical issues and were evacuated to Malta earlier this week. However, permission was not immediately granted for the remaining 50, and the Talia waited at sea until a Maltese patrol boat arrived to take the remainder Tuesday night.
“We have followed the law and yet we cannot disembark in Europe. We cannot believe that a merchant ship with limited capacity for assistance will do its duty while a state like Malta now fails to assign a safe port as required by law,” the Talia’s representatives told Sea-Watch.
Malta is seeking a long-term, automatic distribution agreement with other EU nations for the reception of migrant arrivals from Libya. It became a port call of choice after Italy effectively closed its borders to migrants in 2018. Although that policy has subsequently been somewhat relaxed, Malta remains a focus for migrant ships from North Africa, particularly Libya.
1980-built, Lebanon-flagged, 4,757 gt Talia is owned and managed by Talia Shipping Line Co Sarl of Saida, Lebanon.