Man with disability, two babies stuck at sea as Malta refuses migrant entry
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Man with disability, two babies stuck at sea as Malta refuses migrant entry

Migrants crammed on board, NGO says

One of the pictures distributed by Sea-Watch.

One of the pictures distributed by Sea-Watch.

The Maltese authorities have once again turned down a request to open their ports to a humanitarian boat with rescued migrants, according to NGO Sea-Watch.

The NGO on Wednesday rescued 65 people 30 nautical miles off the coast of Libya. Among them are 11 women, two babies, five children and eight unaccompanied minors. A person with disabilities is also on board.

"Many are exhausted and dehydrated," crew aboard the Sea-Watch said.

Italian and Dutch authorities have also turned down requests for help, the organisation said. The Armed Forces of Malta said it had nothing to add.

"Our crew is taking care of our guests, they are OK, but crammed on little space, awaiting instructions," the organisation said, adding it was time for the EU to show its ability to act.

"Tell Europe that those people are humans," the organisation added. 

Malta has refused entry to several rescue boats, insisting it could not continue to shoulder the burden of migrants fleeing Libya to get into Europe. The authorities have also engaged in several spats with Italy's right-wing minister Matteo Salvini over providing a safe port to the rescue vessels. 

Very few countries have offered to take in migrants rescued by Malta or Italy. 

Last January, Sea-Watch 3 picked up 47 migrants who then had to spend 12 days at sea before being allowed to disembark at Catania in Sicily after a deal was struck with several European countries to take them in.

Six other countries had agreed to take in the 47 on board, including Malta.

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