European Greens say Malta cannot be left to face migrant crisis alone

Greens says solution must protect lives of migrants and prevent a humanitarian crisis, while also helping Malta in the disembarkation of migrants in its waters

File photo of a group of boat migrants disembarking at the army base in Haywharf
File photo of a group of boat migrants disembarking at the army base in Haywharf

Alternattiva Demokratika has come out in favour of the Maltese proposal for a €100 million humanitarian intervention in Libya due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but said Malta cannot leave people to die at sea by shirking its international obligations.

The Maltese proposal for a €100 million humanitarian ‘mission’ to Libya has requested that both the EU’s border mission (EUBAM) and the United Nation’s Support Mission (UNSMIL) be utilised to stop asylum seekers and other migrants from leaving Libya by travelling at sea to cross to Europe.

In a letter to the EU’s external relations representative Josep Borrell, foreign minister Evarist Bartolo insisted this would deter the business model of people smugglers.

The European Green Party and the Maltese Greens – Alternattiva Demokratika – have also called for a solution that protects the lives of migrants and prevents a humanitarian crisis, while also helping Malta in the disembarkation of migrants in its waters.

“We regret that there is no will among governments for a European solution, European solidarity is absolutely necessary in this situation,” Evelyne Huytebroek and Jean Lambert, co-chair and committee member of the European Green Party respectively, said.

“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 said Malta had a 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.” 

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