Maltese bishops call on Vatican to intervene in migrant crisis

Pope Francis leads the Palm Sunday Mass in Saint Peter's Square, at the Vatican, April 14, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The Maltese bishops are calling on the Vatican to intervene in the ongoing migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.

In a letter addressed to Cardinal Pierpaolo Parolin, the bishops referred to what they described as “dramatic events unfolding at sea”. They said that 47 people are stuck on an NGO rescue vessel in Malta’s search and rescue area waiting to be allowed to disembark.

The letter was signed by Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Gozo Apostolic Administrator Mario Grech, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Galea-Curmi, and the General Secretary of the Maltese Episcopal Conference Fr Jimmy Bonnici.

The bishops called on the Vatican for its intervention “in this case to advocate for a solution that is based on solidarity and respect for human dignity.”

Referring to the group of 47 people the bishops said that Aita Mari, and NGO search and rescue vessel, came to their assistance.

“We are reliably informed that their situation is still extremely precarious, not only because bad weather is approaching, but also because there are no emergency or medical personnel on board the Aita Mari.”

The bishops explained that Malta refused to allow the migrants to disembark. On the 10th of April, Malta’s Cabinet decided to ban entry to Maltese ports for migrants due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This notwithstanding, we have approached the Maltese authorities to ask them to allow the migrants to disembark in Malta,” wrote the bishops.

They asked the Vatican to intervene with other EU states and ask them to support Malta by accepting to relocate all or some of the migrants on board. The bishops said that Malta was struggling to cope with migrant arrivals – around 1,200 this year.

The International Organisation for Migration, IOM, has found five lifeless bodies of migrants who were stranded at sea. On Twitter, the IOM stated that approximately 47 migrants on Wednesday got the confirmation to disembark in Tripoli.

You can read the letter in full here: