Refugee situation in Malta: solidarity should not be placed on quarantine

European Green Party / Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party

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 European Green Party and the Maltese Greens – Alternattiva Demokratika – are calling 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.

Evelyne Huytebroek and Jean Lambert, co-chair and committee member of the European Green Party respectively, comment: 

“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.  

We also urge Maltese authorities to stop demonising NGO vessels who are doing what the EU and its member states are failing to do: save lives.” 

Carmel Cacopardo, chair of Alternattiva Demokratika – Maltese member of the European Green Party – comments:  

“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.   

We support the proposal of the Maltese government to engage with Libya in order to lessen its humanitarian burden and enable the international community to provide much-needed assistance to both refugees and the Libyan people. However we remain conscious of the difficulties given the current political state in Libya.”