The migrant rescue boat Alan Kurdi has saved another 44 people, including women and infants from their stricken vessel in the Mediterranean, its operator German charity Sea-Eye said yesterday.
The children are 15 months, three and five years old. The people come from Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Guinea.
Malta has agreed to take in those rescued and is sending a vessel to pick them up, the charity said in a statement. The Maltese authorities did not immediately confirm this.
The Alan Kurdi last week rescued 65 shipwrecked migrants attempting the perilous journey from North Africa, handing them over to Malta after hardline Interior Minister Matteo Salvini closed Italy’s ports to the vessel.
Sea-Eye said it was alerted to the plight of the latest migrants off the Libyan coast by Tunisian fishermen and the Colibri civilian search plane.
The rescued migrants said they had left Zuwara in Libya early Saturday.
Their wooden boat was in Malta’s search and rescue area so Maltese authorities asked a nearby freighter to coordinate the rescue, which told Sea-Eye to take the migrants on board.
“Forty-four people, including four women and three children,” were brought aboard the Alan Kurdi, Sea-Eye said.
“A 15-month-old baby should never have to be in such a life-threatening situation,” said Sea-Eye spokeswoman Carlotta Weibl.
The 65 migrants the Alan Kurdi handed over to Maltese authorities on Sunday have already been sent on to other European Union countries, but it is not clear what would happen to those most recently rescued.
An Italian customs vessel yesterday brought 47 rescued migrants into Sicily’s Pozzallo port, Italian media reported.
The migrants had been headed to Lampedusa, between Sicily and Libya, but there was no space for them there as hundreds of migrants continue to arrive by their own means or are rescued by authorities.
Salvini has vowed to close Italian ports to charity rescue ships, which he accuses of helping people smugglers.
Interior ministry figures showed that 395 migrants have arrived in Italy since the end of June.
Italian media reported yesterday that this year barely one in 10 migrants and asylum seekers has been brought into Italy by charity vessels, the vast majority arriving by other means.
Lampedusa mayor Salvatore Martello said he had tried to contact the interior ministry to meet Salvini to discuss the migrant situation but to no avail.
Salvini on Monday said he wanted to deploy military vessels to stop migrant vessels arriving.
Italy and Malta have repeatedly criticised Europe’s “case-by-case” approach to migrant rescues, which means shipwreck victims spend days or weeks at sea while countries try to agree where they should go.
The Alan Kurdi, which had been banned from entering Maltese and Italian waters, is the third rescue vessel in a week to make headlines.
Pope Francis on Sunday called for “humanitarian corridors” to help rescue migrants in response to that air strike.