Stop demonising NGO vessels – European Greens

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The European Green Party has urged Malta to stop demonising NGO vessels which are saving lives.

In a join statement, the Greens and the Alternattiva Demokratika (AD) party said that refugees fleeing from war, poverty, and persecution are currently in camps on the shores of Libya, and they are facing more danger than ever.

“Malta, due to its geographic location in the central Mediterranean, will see a large share of these refugees reaching its waters. The Maltese government announced that it had closed its harbours and that it can no longer guarantee the rescue of migrants at sea. Besides, the Maltese government is dangerously demonising NGOs who are actively saving refugees’ lives. Malta has a responsibility to act and cannot put more lives at risk. However, we do understand the immense pressure that Malta is facing and it cannot be left alone. The EU must once again face its responsibility and show solidarity towards Malta, Italy, Spain and Greece facing similar situations,” the parties said.

The European Greens and AD called for a solution that protects the lives of migrants and prevents a humanitarian crisis, while also helping Malta which is responsible for the disembarkation of migrants in its waters under international law.

“We regret that there is no will among governments for a European solution, European solidarity is absolutely necessary in this situation. We as Europeans have a humanitarian responsibility to provide these people with food and the basic needs of daily life in the camps in Libya – and with the option of asking for asylum or permission to migrate to Europe on the shores of Libya without being forced to risk their lives in the Mediterranean sea,” said Evelyne Huytebroek and Jean Lambert, co-chair and committee member of the European Green Party respectively.

“We have the responsibility to coordinate the rescue of anyone in danger. We have no choice, it is an obligation. It is our responsibility because of Malta’s geographical position in the mid-Mediterranean. There have been circumstances where our geographical position has been beneficial but there are also responsibilities. This one of them,” said AD chair Carmel Cacopardo.

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.

Nello Scavo, a journalist for the authoritative national Catholic Italian newspaper ‘L’Avvenire’  accused Malta of lying about the assistance given by Malta to the migrants over the past few days. Scavo said that “It seems that Malta even lied to the Italian Authorities. Libya refuses to let the migrants back ashore”. Scavo also accused to Italian Authorities of not knowing what was really happening while saying that everything was under control. The report by Scavo came as the International Migrants Organisation, the NGO Mediterranea and the SOS network Alarm Phone all reported the arrival of a boat with 47 persons and 5 corpses off the coast of Libya.