Watch: Malta is being left alone facing migration, Bartolo says

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Malta has reiterated its call that it cannot deal with mass migration from Libya alone and called on the European Union to take action. Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo said that Malta did not create the mess in the southern country, however it was being left alone in dealing with the ‘crisis’.

In a video statement published on Facebook, Bartolo said that the European Union was not doing enough to help border states with migration. Some 3,600 asylum seekers have taken the deadly Central Mediterranean route during the first three months of 2020. One third of which have arrived in Malta. Bartolo noted that the number was four times bigger than the number of arrivals in 2019. He said that the number of arrivals had placed the Maltese system under pressure pushing it to its limits.

Bartolo said that since 2005, 22,000 asylum seekers have entered Malta irregularly from North Africa. He lamented that less than a quarter had been relocated, noting that two-thirds had gone to the US while other EU members only relocated 8%.

Newsbook.com.mt revealed that the Government had chartered a Captain Morgan vessel to house asylum seekers stranded at sea on Thursday. Until an official confirmation came through, the vessel was equipped with food and water supplies and mattresses. The vessel will remain at 13 nm off the coast of Malta with the asylum seekers on board. A protest banner was affixed to the vessel with the words “European Solidarity”.

The government said that the search and rescue operation was carried out by a fishing trawler Dar al Salam which was recently involved in a controversial push back to Libya. Under international law, refoulement is illegal.

Bartolo said that Malta expected solidarity from other EU member states with a southern border. He explained that even the United Nations had appealed to the European Union to intervene. The situation in the war torn country worsened following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.