Hysterics will get us nowhere

Muscat and Busuttil are calling for Europe to intervene and prevent boats reaching our shores by instituting a European pushback policy. I find this disturbing.

Mohammed Al Chami, who I met hours after being rescued from the migrants' boat shipwreck two weeks ago, has most probably lost his five-month pregnant wife and one of his twin daughters in the tragedy.

However, while PN leader Simon Busuttil inexplicably wanted Al Chami and other survivors sent to the nearest port of call, Lampedusa, EU leaders, including Prime Minister Joseph Muscat would have sent the 34-year-old Syrian national and the thousands who go through similar travesties every year back to Libya or their country of origin.

Following the death of hundreds of persons trying to reach Europe on rickety boats, our political class, with a very few exceptions, threw tantrums and instead of finding a solution to the unfolding tragedy, Joseph Muscat and Simon Busuttil proved that they are unable and unwilling to look beyond our blood stained shores.

This absurdity is by no means exclusive to our political leaders, as politicians in Italy, Greece and other EU countries seem to be as shortsighted as ours.

Europe is in a state of confusion and cannot decide whether it wants to avoid further tragedies and offer migrants protection or close its borders for asylum seekers with the pretext of avoiding tragedies.

Instead of focusing efforts on preventing further tragedies in the Mediterranean by understanding why these persons are risking their lives to cross the sea (and land), our politicians are choosing to highlight and exaggerate our woes.

According to the New York Times, Muscat told his peers in Brussels that migration posed "a question of survival" for Malta. If this is the case, then not only is he blowing the issue out of proportion but also undermining his credibility if he intends to convince EU leaders to take concrete action.

My worry is that Muscat really believes Malta is under siege and abandoned by the EU while ignoring the fact that Malta receives tens of millions in EU funds to deal with migration.

The Prime Minister is right in recognising that migration poses a challenge to Malta and Europe. However it is certainly not threatening our survival and instead of pushing the panic button we should roll our sleeves up and realise that migration is a phenomenon that is part and parcel of human nature. Admittedly, migration could create pressures on the State, however these difficulties can be mitigated by a genuine integration policy and an open dialogue with migrants themselves.  

For centauries, migration has enriched the world (just think of Einstein, Freud, Chaplin and Pope Francis) and Europe must embrace migrants, whether economic, political or environmental.  

As the German chancellor Angela Merkel pointed out during last week's EU summit, southern frontier countries are not alone in facing migration. According to Frontex, in 2009 the number of migrant crossings into Greece increased to 75% of the EU total, with most of these migrants finding their way to northern countries.

What I find most disturbing is that Joseph Muscat and Simon Busuttil, together with the Italian government are calling for Europe to intervene and prevent boats reaching our shores by instituting a European pushback policy.

Although the EU has postponed talks to June 2014, EU leaders seem to converge on resolving the issue by repelling boats instead of reforming the EU's immigration system. EU heads of states called for the reinforcement of Frontex and for swift implementation of Eurosour, the new surveillance system for the Mediterranean.

Libya has already showed its willingness to cooperate by sharing European intelligence gathered by the means of drones, offshore sensors and satellite search systems, intended to survey the Mediterranean in its entirety.

People in distress at sea need to be rescued and not sent back to Libya or other countries of origin, which cannot safeguard their rights.

However, sea rescue operations are not included in Eurosur's declared tasks. All it says is that rescue operations should be coordinated, however it does not stipulate what will be of migrants who are rescued.

It seems that the EU is willing to allow Libya and other countries to do its dirty work and disregard migrants' right for asylum.

Persons fleeing their country must have a bloody good reason to do so, especially if they are risking their lives and that of their wives and infants in the process. However, the EU wants to send them back to the misery they fled from.

Europe needs to allow people a legal entry and a right to ask for asylum, otherwise we would be absconding from our responsibilities to provide shelter to persons seeking protection and a better life. Instead of using our resources to grant persons their legitimate right to protection we are throwing money at a ludicrous pushback policy.

Europe and our political class needs to move away from tough talk which will get us nowhere and find a solution by offering migrants the possibility to relocate in Europe once arriving here.

EU member states should take heed from the European Parliament and share responsibilities by hosting migrants who enter Europe by legal means and offer them, and us, a better future.

Yet, I doubt this will happen by looking and talking tough, threatening to veto EU proceedings or declare our harbours as unsafe. Hysterics should make way for persuasion otherwise nobody will listen and nothing will change.

John Mifsud
Sigmund Freud a migrant? He spent all his life in Vienna, leaving only because of the Nazi takeover in 1938 and dying the following year. And Pope Francis? Did you expect him to continue living in his native Argentina after he was elected Pope? But there are famous immigrants you could have mentioned, like Adolf Hitler, Charles Ponzi, Abu Hamza, Lucky Luciano, Joseph Mengele, etc, etc.
The logical and practical solution to this dilemma is to set up some form of EU embassy in Libya, and other departure points, where migrants can apply for asylum. UNHCR can open an adjacent facility to house would be asylum seekers and guarantee their protection. This way the EU can establish if the migrant is a bona fide refugee or is just trying to circumvent current immigration rules. The understanding should be that if it is determined that the applicant's case is legitimate his visa should be EU wide. This method would eliminate the need for any hazardous sea crossing.
Quddiem din it-tragedja umana, u bi skop ta integrazzjoni,jekk ma insibux l-ghajnuna mitluba mill EU, jien nissugerixxi li dawn l-immigranti li qeghdin migburin fl-open centers fil Marsa u Hal Kirkop ghandhom jitferrxu f-open centers ohra ma Malta kollha, bhal Tas-Sliema, Ghawdex, Mellieha u bliet u rhula ohra.
So since as you said Italy France and Greece also have the same beliefs as Muscat and Busutil, so it is natural that you are the odd one off. The majority is always right. If you think you are right than you should give an example and take some of these imigrants to your house and nurse them
Why should an African risk his life to have a better economic life in Europe? Who is responsible for all this: Malta? Don't make me laugh or despair. It is the whole capitalist system of greed and exploitation! It is the European companies-who do not figure in your equation-that pillage African resources without adequate and fair distribution of its wealth. Why do Europeans play chummy chummy with African dictators- who buy chalets and deposit billions of dollars in European banks? Help African in Africa otherwise it is simply letting and encouraging the massive exploitation of resources and human beings to continue. But at end of the day we are not communists , are we, but just armchair critics?
Solution keep the refugees and charge the country of origin via the IMF or Global Bank. When the conflict ends they may return to their beloved homeland. But the problem is they are just people better pastures irrelevant of their homeland situation. Real refugees tend to move away from the conflict but close to home so they can go back as soon as it relatively safe.
Jurgen, you are using the wrong word in each and every paragraph you wrote, it is ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION we are dealing with not immigration. If it was legal immigration we would not have all these problems.