Malta should not carry the burden of migrant trafficking

Reference Number: PR200650, Press Release Issue Date: Apr 10, 2020

Ministers Evarist Bartolo and Byron Camilleri hold meetings with the Libyan, German and Italian ambassadors to Malta


Following the government’s declaration that it will no longer accept or offer a safe place to irregular migrants, Malta’s position was formally communicated to Libya, Italy and Germany during meetings held between the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs Evarist Bartolo and the Minister for Home Affairs, National Security and Law Enforcement Byron Camilleri, and the countries’ respective ambassadors to Malta.


In their meeting with the Libyan ambassador, the Ministers discussed the situation in the country, where the instability has not only hindered its capacity to deal with the coronavirus, but has also led to the release of migrants from detention centres, with people smugglers ready to seize the opportunity. 


This has increased the risk facing southern European countries, with Italy shutting down its ports to irregular migrants moments before Malta followed suit.


Nevertheless, this has not stopped NGOs from pursuing operations in the Mediterranean, while facilitating, directly or indirectly, the business model of people smugglers, by intercepting migrants just outside Libyan territorial waters.


In this regard, Ministers Bartolo and Camilleri held talks with the German ambassador on the NGO vessel Alan Kurdi, which carries the German flag and which has recently intercepted 150 migrants who escaped Libya. It eventually turned out that, not only was the vessel not guaranteed a port of entry, but it did not have a sufficient supply of food, medicine and sanitary products to take care of the migrants it intercepted. It was observed that such operations have led to a surge in the exodus from Libya and that its actions are exacerbating the problem of irregular migration. 


Earlier on, Minister Byron Camilleri spoke with the European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, and stressed that the European Union must shoulder its responsibility, particularly in these trying times.


Throughout these talks, the Ministers reiterated Malta’s position that, in the current circumstances, our resources, particularly the disciplined corps and the health authorities, are working around the clock to save lives on the ground. By no ways or means can Malta guarantee rescuing lives at sea.​