Maltese bishops ask Vatican to intervene with other EU states on migrant crisis

The Maltese bishops write to the Vatican asking for intervention with other EU states to support Malta through migrant relocations as 43 people remain stranded at sea

A rescuer on board the NGO vessel Aita Mari looking at an Italian coastguard ship that evacuated a family that needed medical assistance. The Aita Mari has 43 rescued migrants aboard who are being denied a port to disembark in.
A rescuer on board the NGO vessel Aita Mari looking at an Italian coastguard ship that evacuated a family that needed medical assistance. The Aita Mari has 43 rescued migrants aboard who are being denied a port to disembark in.

The Maltese bishops have solicited the Vatican to intervene with other EU states and ask them to take in migrants currently on board an NGO rescue ship.

The bishops said Malta’s reception and asylum systems were struggling to cope with the large number of arrivals of boat people in recent months.

There are currently 43 migrants stranded on the rescue vessel Aita Mari in international waters between Italy and Malta. The migrants were taken aboard after four days at sea with both Malta and Italy ignoring pleas for their rescue.

In their letter to Cardinal Pierpaolo Parolin, the secretary of state of the Vatican, the bishops asked the for the Holy See’s intervention for “a solution based on solidarity and respect for human dignity”.

“In view of the huge pressures that Malta is currently facing, we are writing to you to ask you to use your good offices to intervene with other EU member states and ask them to support Malta by accepting to relocate all or some of the migrants on board,” they wrote.

Malta and Italy have closed their ports to migrant arrivals as a result of the COVID-19 emergency.

Last week, the Armed Forces of Malta rescued 64 migrants, bringing the total of arrivals this year alone to almost 1,200. The government then declared the country’s ports closed to migrant arrivals and informed the European Commission it would not be in a position to guarantee rescues.

The letter was signed by Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Apostolic Administrator for Gozo Mario Grech, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Galea-Curmi and the general secretary of the Maltese Episcopal Conference Fr Jimmy Bonnici.

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