European Migration Network


Frontex launches search mission for missing migrant boat

The EU’s border agency on Monday morning went looking for a boat carrying migrants that went missing in the sea between Libya and Malta over the weekend

They had launched a search flight mission on Monday morning to try to locate a boat of migrants that had become unaccounted for.  Later on Monday, the agency said the boat had been located. This, the agency said, meant that as of Monday, two boats had arrived in Sicily and two remained in the Maltese search and rescue area.

On Sunday, German NGO Sea-Watch claimed that a boat of migrants had capsized with many feared drowned - claims that were denied by Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo on Monday morning, who said that the vessel in question was a "derelict dinghy" not carrying any people. 

According to Times of Malta Frontex search plane did spot an unmanned vessel over the weekend, but it was not clear whether the boat had capsized or was simply left behind from a previous rescue mission. The Swiss-based International Organization for Migration said the reports were "very worrying" but difficult to verify.

The situation at sea has become increasingly fraught after both Malta and Italy declared their ports closed to migrant rescues last week, citing the COVID-19 outbreak as the determining factor. Meanwhile, security sources said that a number of boats had been spotted leaving Libya carrying migrants since last week, with a number still floating aimlessly in and around Malta’s search and rescue zone.

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