Survivor reveals further evidence to Guardian and La Repubblica of Malta’s deadly strategy to intercept migrants crossings

Further evidence of Malta’s strategy to push migrants back to the conflict zone of Libya has been revealed by a woman who survived a Mediterranean crossing in which 12 people died.

A series of voice messages obtained by the Guardian have provided confirmation of the Maltese government’s strategy to use private vessels, acting at the behest of its armed forces, in order to intercept migrant crossings and return refugees to Libyan detention centres.

The woman said the boat on which she was attempting to reach Europe had been intercepted by a ship enlisted by the Maltese authorities, which took those aboard back to Tripoli.

Last month, investigative journalists working for several international media sources exposed the existence of a secret pact between La Valletta and the owners of at least three trawlers.

The woman’s account matches that of other survivors who have spoken to Alarm Phone, a hotline service for migrants in distress at sea, which first raised the case.

Her boat left the coast of Libya on the night of 9 April, she said. Around 63 people, including a six-week-old baby and a two-year-old girl – most of them from sub-Saharan Africa – were loaded into a dinghy by traffickers at Garabulli, approximately 50km (31 miles) east of Tripoli.

A first ship passed tantalisingly close to them . “The boat was called Medkon Lines,” said the woman, who showed a photograph of the vessel. “We tried to stop it to rescue us. Three men jumped in the water to reach it, but in one minute they disappeared in the water.

“After five days at sea, a Maltese airplane spotted us,” said the woman, whose identity cannot be revealed for her security. “We thought the plane would call the rescuers, but nobody came. We were feeling so tired and we didn’t even have water or food.”

Four other men, almost unconscious from thirst and hunger, let themselves slide down from the dinghy into the water to drown, she said, before, on 14 April, a trawler under a Maltese flag, the Dar Al Salam 1, reached them.

“The crew of the boat told us they were not rescuers … but said they work for Malta,” the woman said. “They said they were Egyptian and working at sea for Malta. They were looking at us like we were not human beings.” […]

The Guardian | 19.05.2020

„Exclusive: 12 die as Malta uses private ships to push migrants back to Libya“