Malta has urged the European Union to back Libya and warned that continued fighting is undermining the North African’s response to the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
During a video teleconference which saw the participation of the European Union’s Foreign Ministers and the High Representative Josep Borrell, the foreign ministers discussed the latest developments on the impact of the coronavirus and the strengthening of cooperation and solidarity in the member states’ common fight against the pandemic.
Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo reiterated Malta’s call to support Libya, where persistent fighting is undermining the country’s ability to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, while also contributing to a higher risk of a spike in irregular migration.
Bartolo underlined the importance of an early deployment of the recently launched Operation IRINI, which aims to break the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Mediterranean, while also implementing the UN Security Council’s resolution.
The foreign minister appealed to all member states to ensure that NGO vessels which bear their flag and which are currently monitoring the Mediterranean observe international law and are reminded of their responsibilities.
So far 350,000 EU citizens have been repatriated while 250,000 others remain stranded abroad.
Minister Bartolo also spoke on the need to accelerate the process of the joint procurement mechanism in order to ensure the much-needed medical equipment is made available to health services as soon as possible.
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