[WATCH] 'We did not create this mess' - Evarist Bartolo reiterates appeal for EU action on Libya

Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo reiterates Malta's appeal for EU help in dealing with migration from Libya

Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo
Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo

Malta has reiterated its call for the EU to take action and help Malta deal with the Libyan migration crisis.

Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo said that he had on Thursday again asked the EU and all other member states for action to be taken on the Libyan front.

Bartolo said he had also called for "genuine and immediate relocation pledges for those migrants on their way, and future ones."

Two weeks ago, the Maltese government appealed to the EU to immediately launch a humanitarian mission to Libya to avoid a disaster brought on by the Libyan migration crisis in combination with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, MaltaToday reported that migrants rescued at sea by a fishing vessel commissioned by the Maltese government will be transferred to a Captain Morgan ship just outside territorial waters.

In a video statement on Facebook this evening, Bartolo said Europe had to adopt "a more principled migration policy" that would serve the EU's needs, would not penalise migrants seeking to cross from Libya, and would not leave countries such as Malta to face the problem alone.

"We are a peace loving state. We would like to live in peace with all states. We do not cause wars to happen, and we do not take part in them. We do not export arms. We did not create this mess and we certaintly weren't the instigators," Bartolo said.

He highlighted that Malta, with a population of less than half a million had last year taken in 3,400 irregular migrants crossing over by sea. In the first three months of this year, the figure stands at 3,600 he said - a four-fold increase over the same period in 2019.

The number of migrants which came to the island last year, if represented per capita, would be like 3.5 million entering the EU.

"Since 2005, 22,000 migrants have entered Malta irregularly from North Africa," he said, lamenting that less than a quarter had been relocated, and, of those, two-thirds had gone to the US, with other EU members taking in only one-third, or 8%.

"Malta expects solidarty from other EU member states with a southern border," he said, "We share Italy and other countries' frustration that not enough is being done."

The minister added Malta had done its part on the humanitarian front, and continued to do so to this day.

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