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MALTA’S armed forces were today accused of putting the lives of 101 refugees in danger before eventually facilitating their arrival in Italy last month.
Alarm Phone, an activist network supporting refugees crossing the Mediterranean, published footage filmed by a refugee on April 11 that shows an Armed Forces Malta (AFM) ship cruising at high speeds close to people as they swim back towards a boat.
On April 12, the refugees made it to Pozzalo on the Italian island of Sicily, more than 290 miles from Libya, which they left on April 8.
Weeks after the incident, one of the survivors contacted Alarm Phone to offer the video and reported that, as the refugees’ boat was approaching Malta they had encountered an unidentified vessel that provided them with life vests and later an AFM ship, whose officers had taken the refugees’ phone and reset its GPS to Libya.
“Frightened by these actions and seeking to enforce rescue … several people jumped into the sea, risking their lives,” Alarm Phone said today in its report on the incident.
“The survivors state that the AFM carried out dangerous manoeuvres close to people in the water, further endangering their lives and those still on the rubber boat.”
The refugee told Alarm Phone that the AFM officers eventually provided them with a new engine, five gallons of fuel and the co-orindates for Pozzalo.
“An AFM vessel (an orange vessel, not yet identified) accompanied them in the direction of Sicily before eventually leaving the scene,” the activists said. “This is certainly not the first time that the AFM have engaged in violent and illegal activities.”
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