Malta rescues 180 refugees in Mediterranean as weather worsens

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Migrants onboard an inflatible boat wait for being rescued off the
coast of Libya on December 21, 2018 [Olmo CALVO/AFP]

* UN calls on countries to take in remaining group of 49
refugees stuck in limbo on boats in Mediterranean Sea.

Malta has pulled 180 refugees to safety from two boats in
distress, while 49 more are stuck in limbo at sea as the weather
worsens in the Mediterranean.

An army patrol boat picked up 28 refugees from a dinghy on
Monday some 130km southwest of Malta before plucking another 152
people from a wooden boat to the south.

The rescues followed the recovery by Malta on Sunday of 69
refugees on a wooden boat which had run into trouble.

Meanwhile, the UN’s refugee agency said time was “running out”
for 49 people rescued by NGO boats but denied a safe port in
Europe, some of whom have been stranded at sea for over a week.

The NGOs – the German Sea-Eye and Dutch Sea-Watch – called for
“an immediate solution for those being held hostage by European
States, who are denying them a safe port”.

“With the weather conditions forecast to worsen this evening, a
solution must be found by the end of 2018 in order to prevent
placing people’s heath at further risk,” they said in a joint
statement.

The German-flagged Professor Albrecht Penck ship has 17 people
from West Africa on board who were rescued from an unseaworthy boat
on Saturday off Libya’s coast, including one woman and two
children.

Sea-Eye said in a statement on Monday that “any delay poses a
risk”.

At the same time, the Dutch-flagged Sea-Watch has 32 people
rescued on December 22 including three young children, three
unaccompanied adolescents and four women from Nigeria, Libya and
Ivory Coast.

While Italy, Malta, Spain and the Netherlands have refused to
accept the Sea-Watch refugees, several German cities have offered
to take them in.

On Saturday a government spokesperson said Germany would only
accept some of the migrants if other European countries also agreed
to do so.

At least 1,300 refugees dead in 2018

Geneva-based UNHCR urged governments Monday to “urgently offer
safe ports and disembarkation” and agree on a system that provides
rescue ship captains with clarity about where refugees can
disembark.

“The negotiations over which country takes them in must happen
only once those rescued are brought safety to land,” UNHCR special
envoy Vincent Cochetel said.

image

More than 1,300 refugees have died trying to reach Italy or
Malta via the central Mediterranean since the beginning of the
year, according to the International Organisation for Migration
(IOM).

The Italian interior ministry said on Monday that the number of
2018 arrivals in Italy was down over 80 percent compared with 2017
at just 23,370.

The biggest number came from Tunisia, followed by Eritrea, Iraq,
Sudan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

In mid-2017, departures from Libya dropped after a controversial
deal between Italy and the war-torn North African country.

A campaign against the NGO rescue organisations peaked in June
this year with far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini’s
“closed-ports” policy aimed at ending all rescue operations,
including military ones.

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Brigadier-General-Sani-Kukasheka-Usman
Brigadier-General-Sani-Kukasheka-Usman

Boko Haram: Army Warns Perpetrators of Subversive
Propaganda

The Nigerian Army has noted with great concern the concerted
efforts by some unpatriotic elements to politicise and derail the
ongoing fight against terrorism and insurgency in the country.

This is manifested in the recent systematic releases and
recycling of old BHT propaganda video clips, old interviews of
disgruntled and cowardly soldiers, as well as false and inaccurate
news reports by some section of the media.

We regrettably further observed that the unscrupulous elements
are also perfecting strategy to rubbish the government’s efforts in
the provision of safety and security for her citizens. They are
determined to dampen troops’ morale especially in the North East,
so that the troops will become compromised against the war efforts
and complicate the security situation in the country for selfish
and cheap political gains and expediency.

We would like to reiterate that Nigeria is at war with Boko
Haram terrorists, in any form or guise that they may manifest and
strongly warn these subversive elements to desist from these
unwholesome efforts. We would like to warn that the Nigerian Army
will no longer tolerate these subversive acts and sabotage aimed at
dampening troops’ morale, affect their performance and to finally
abandon the war.

We will continue to monitor subversive propaganda and take
necessary action against perpetrators. The Nigerian Army will
remain undaunted in the successful prosecution of this war against
terrorism, insurgents, militants and bandits in the country.

In another development, the attention of the Nigerian Army has
been drawn to an old video clip circulating on the social media in
which a supposedly soldier clad with an AK-47 rifle alleging lack
of arms and ammunition, among other soldiers in a remote location
walking. This is not true, as the video was recorded in 2014 and
therefore cannot be a true reflection of the present reality. The
public are please requested to discontenance the video clip.

SANI KUKASHEKA USMAN
Brigadier General
Director Army Public Relations

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