Police in Malta have mounted a nationwide search for 21 migrants who went missing from one of the detention centers on the island, a government spokesman confirmed on Sunday.
The spokesman said the migrants were not found during a routine check on Saturday.
The spokesman said the authorities believe that the migrants escaped from the Hal Far detention center on Saturday morning, shortly before the routine check. However, investigations are under way to establish when the escape actually happened since it could have happened on Friday night, the spokesman said.
A police spokesman said on Sunday that so far none of the 21 migrants had been found and confirmed that police are stationed in various points to apprehend the migrants who should be in detention.
In line with Malta’s immigration policy, migrants are held in detention until they are interviewed and their identity and papers are confirmed and regularized. A good number of migrants who were brought to Malta after being rescued during a boat crossing from Libya or Tunisia towards Europe have applied for some form of protection or asylum.
The last time migrants entered Malta was on June 6 when the country accepted over 425 migrants.