Monday, March 14, 2011

Moroccan Evacuees from Libya Banned by Italy

The Italian government has this evening announced that it was denying entry into port of a Moroccan chartered ship carrying 1,770 passengers of Moroccan and Libyan nationality, departed from Misurata which had reportedly tried to push to Malta and later to Sicily. The Maltese government has denied reports that it pushed back the ship.

The news was reported by Italian news agency ANSA, quoting “reliable sources” in Italy who have been monitoring the ship since it’s departure from Misurata.

According to the Italian report, the ship was steaming North towards Maltese territorial waters and later advanced into Italian waters where it has been blocked by Italian naval vessels.

An Italian government spokesman has said that there is no certainty that the passengers are genuine evacuees.

Investigations carried out by MaltaToday have confirmed that the ship is chartered by Moroccan nationals and not by the Moroccan government as was previously suggested.

The ship - an Italian flagged ferry named 'Mistyral Express' is said to be carrying 1,770 passengers and has left Misurata with Moroccan and Libyan nationals. It was originally declared to be heading for Morocco. However, the ship has re-routed to Augusta in Sicily for re-fuelling.

It remains unknown however why the ship decided to re-route to Sicily.

In a statement, the Maltese government has categorically denied any push-back or having any knowledge of the ship.

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