Valletta, Dec 23 (IANS) Malta has airlifted a newborn and his mother from a Spanish migrant ship, rescuing them from “certain death at sea”, a government spokesman said.
However, the charity involved with the migrant relocation has accused the Maltese government of refusing food to more than 300 other migrants on board the vessel at the same time.
An Instagram post by Proactiva said that there were 311 migrants — including pregnant women, children and babies — and Malta had refused to provide food, adding “this isn’t Christmas”.
Malta has rejected the allegation saying the crew had told officials they had enough provisions for two days.
The baby was born three days earlier on a beach in Libya and his life was in danger, the BBC quoted the Proactiva charity as saying.
Earlier Proactiva’s boat was refused entry to Malta and Italy, while France, Tunisia and Libya did not respond to requests.
Proactiva said they were now heading towards the port of Algeciras in southern Spain, where the migrants could disembark. It would take a few days.
Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini tweeted that “Italian ports are closed” and the migrants would not be allowed to land.
He also tweeted a picture of his lunch and said he had eaten well, prompting an angry response from Proactiva’s founder Oscar Camps, who said future generations would be “ashamed” of him.
Meanwhile, a German NGO, Sea-Watch, said it had rescued 33 migrants at sea and was appealing for a port where they could disembark.
More than 1,300 migrants have died trying to reach Italy or Malta since the beginning of 2018, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.
Migrants travelling through Libya to Europe were subject to “unimaginable horrors”, an UN report has said. Most women and older teenage girls were raped by smugglers or traffickers.
“Across Libya, unidentified bodies of migrants and refugees bearing gunshot wounds, torture marks and burns are frequently uncovered in rubbish bins, dry river beds, farms and the desert,” it said.