Drastically fewer asylum seekers reached Malta this year compared to the same period in 2020, while sea arrivals in Italy shot up and boat interceptions by the Libyan coastguard almost doubled.
A total of 147 migrants have disembarked in Malta between January and May, in contrast to the 1,273 who arrived in the same period last year, according to UNHCR data.
Italy, on the other hand, has seen a 206 per cent increase in asylum-seeker arrivals by sea during the same period, pushing the Italian Prime Minister to push for so-called migrant burden-sharing deals among EU partners.
Italy recorded 13,298 arrivals this year so far, compared to 4,305 last year, according to UNHCR.
The overwhelming majority of these arrivals, 12,157, entered through ports in Sicily, particularly through Lampedusa, which received around 2,200 asylum seekers in one weekend earlier this month.
During the same period, UN records show that Libya intercepted almost double the number of boats leaving its shores – from 3,625 in the first five months of 2020 to 6,060 this year to date.
'Fewer rescues by AFM' - Alarm Phone
A member of migrant emergency hotline, Alarm Phone, said since around May 2020, the NGO has observed fewer rescues carried out by the Armed Forces of Malta and more migrants pushed back to Libya.
“We are observing that the AFM doesn’t go out for rescues at all to boats in distress in Maltese search and rescue zone, south of Lampedusa. Instead, they count on merchant vessels and the Libyan coastguard to push boat people back to Libya,” Britta Rabe said.
Alarm Phone said it had observed that with the support of air surveillance, Malta was doing its utmost to prevent boats en ..
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