Malta has denied the disembarkation of 11 "traumatised" people who were rescued by the MV Aquarius for a third time.

The previous two rescues led to lengthy standoffs until the ship found a harbour where it could disembark the migrants it had on board. In June, it was forced to go to Valencia while in August it was allowed in Malta only after an agreement was reached by several countries to take the migrants.

According to the rescue vessel's logbook, the captain informed the Maltese authorities of the boat prior to the rescue taking place, noting that the situation had been assessed as "highly dangerous".

Ten men and one unaccompanied minor were rescued from an "unseaworthy boat" off the coast of Libya yesterday. They were found “physically and mentally traumatised”, the captain told authorities.

A recap of the rescue that took place off the coast of Libya Thursday. Photo: MSFA recap of the rescue that took place off the coast of Libya Thursday. Photo: MSF
Thursday evening, the Maltese authorities responded, saying they were neither “the appropriate nor the competent authority” to provide the vessel and its 11 survivors with a place of safety.

The Italian authorities also denied the MV Aquarius a place of safety, saying the search and rescue case was not coordinated by them.

Without a place to disembark the migrants, the MV Aquarius is continuing its patrols in international waters in the Libyan search and rescue region.

The vessel was asked to transfer the survivors to the Libyan Coast Guard, but refused, insisting Libyan ports do not conform to the definition of places of safety.

Migrants who came off of the MV Lifeline in June had told the Times of Malta of the hardships they faced in Libya, and insisted they would have rather died than go back there again.

Despite this, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat yesterday said the migrants were picked up in international waters controlled by Libya. Had they been picked up by the Libyan coastguard, they would have been taken to Libya, he noted.

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