Beppe Fenech Adami tells Home Affairs Minister to 'come clean' on young girl who died in Maltese waters

Louijin died whilst being airlifted to a hospital after she was left stranded for four days, together with 60 other migrants, in the Maltese Search and Rescue zone

Nationalist Party MP Beppe Fenech Adami has appealed to the Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri to “come clean” on the death of four-year-old refugee in Malta’s SAR zone.

“I know this will not give me any popularity, but we must have the guts to say that it is not right that a four-year-old girl dies from thirst in an area which the country is responsible for,” he said in parliament.

Louijin, who was accompanied by her mother and one-year-old sister, was part of a group of more than 60 Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian migrants on board a wooden fishing vessel that set sail from Lebanon to Italy at the end of last August.

On 2 September the migrants started running out of basic provisions and as the fishing boat

suffered a leak, they started sending distress signals.

After spending days in distress in Malta’s search and rescue zone close to Crete, 61 migrants disembarked in Crete. Louijin died whilst being airlifted to a hospital after she was found unconscious during the rescue operation. Reportedly, her last words were: “Mother, I’m thirsty”.

Fenech Adami said that while the Opposition’s position is clear that the country’s laws should be respected, that criminals should be prosecuted and that human trafficking should not be facilitated, Malta’s has certain international obligations.

“Let’s send the message that we are in favour of law and order, but at the end of the day we must have the guts to stand up for what is right,” he said. “Principles must guide the country’s leaders.”

The PN MP said Minister Camilleri should “come clean” and issue all details related to the case.

He claimed political orders were issued so the boat, which was in Malta’s Search and Rescue Zone, is ignored on the off chance it drifts outside Maltese territory. “If this happened, political responsibility must be shouldered.”

“Can you imagine it? You have a person dying of thirst and you ignore that plea. Nobody should die of thirst, let alone a four-year-old girl,” he said.

Fenech Adami stressed that his criticism is not directed towards AFM personnel, “who carry out their duties bravely and efficiently”, but against those who issue the orders.

“When I criticise, I am not criticising the courageous soldiers. I am criticising, very harshly the political decisions taken,” he said.

Parading of illegal migrants ‘disgusting’

The PN MP also slammed government propaganda on the rounding up of migrants who were found living in a number of localities in Malta.

Following a number of incidents in areas frequented by migrants, the Home Affairs Ministry has issued a number of press releases on inspections carried out by authorities.

He said that the mass raids were a knee-jerk reaction by government following the criticism it was receiving on migration. “This is all a populist show to make people think that you are doing something.”

The photo uploaded by the Home Affairs Minister
The photo uploaded by the Home Affairs Minister

He compared a Facebook post uploaded by the Home Affairs Minister of migrants boarding a plane to a scene “right out of Guantanamo Bay.”

“It’s good to crackdown on illegalities, but to post it on Facebook? To get a populist reaction? It’s in bad taste,” he said. “How I wish you had the same swift reaction to those who stole millions in bribes from the Maltese people.”