“Malta cannot become a migrant reception centre for Europe” – Minister Bartolo

Minister for Foreign and European Affairs Evarist Bartolo addressed the international conference on immigration organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. The conference dealt with the first regional review of the global pact for safe, orderly and regular migration in the UNECE region.

The effectiveness of the Global Compact ultimately depends on its ability to address the specific and particular problems of countries and people around the world, said Minister Bartolo.

In his address, Bartolo continued saying that Malta is the smallest and most densely populated country in the European Union and the most vulnerable as Malta is right in the middle of the Central Mediterranean migratory route where departures from Libya and Tunisia have more than trebled this year.

“We do not have the carrying capacity to take in more irregular migrants and becoming a migrant reception centre for Europe will destroy our economy and livelihood for our people,” said the Minister who also said that the relocation has helped but has certainly not solved our problems. In 15 years, the European Union partners took 8% only of the arrivals.

In relation to human traffickers Minister Bartolo said that these continue to send more migrant boats from North Africa towards Europe, and Malta is caught between two extremes; let them drown and let them all in. “We do not want to do either,” said Bartolo who said that Malta has no alternative to cooperate with Libya to intercept and take back the boats of irregular migrants.

This year Malta had over two thousand irregular migrants coming to Malta. Proportionately, that is the equivalent of two million arriving in the European Union.

Bartolo reiterated that relocation remains essential for those who deserve protection and asylum.

The Global Compact for Migration is the first inter-governmentally negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations, covering all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner.