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  • Migrants disembark from an Armed Forces of Malta patrol boat at its base in Marsamxett Harbour, Valleta

    Migrants disembark from an Armed Forces of Malta patrol boat at its base in Marsamxett Harbour, Valleta | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 May 2019

Good weather conditions in the Mediterranean mean more migrant boats departing from North Africa.

A Maltese armed forces patrol boat picked up more than 200 migrants from two dinghies in the Mediterranean and was bringing them to Malta Saturday, a spokesman said.

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At least one pregnant woman and a number of children were believed to be among the 216 rescued migrants. Their nationality was not known.

An AFM spokesman said a patrol boat had been deployed to a sinking dinghy south of Malta Friday. After picking up the migrants, it was diverted to a second dinghy while on its way to Malta, picking up those migrants as well.

The armed forces said that with good weather conditions prevailing, departures of migrants from Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria had increased in the past two days, resulting in 12 migrant boats arriving in Sicily, Sardinia, and Lampedusa.

The Libyan coast guard said Friday it had rescued 290 migrants from inflatable rafts near the capital Tripoli.

Malta, which was holding a vote for the European Union parliament Saturday, the results of which could be driven in some countries by fear of migration, has also appealed to the EU for help in dealing with the flow of migrants.

The island of 450,000 people, which by official accounts is doing well economically is a common destination for refugees and migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa.

More than 500 migrants have reached Malta this year.

According to a study commissioned by the Ministry of Social Dialogue and Civil Liberties in Malta, the population "remains lukewarm or hostile to the presence of foreigners, although some make a distinction between asylum seekers and richer foreigners."

"Attitudes towards foreigners tends to be selective and utilitarian, with most respondents viewing foreigners either as a source of investment, especially in property or as an invisible army of labor which takes those jobs which are not wanted by Maltese."

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