Vella calls for further efforts to secure a national unity government in Libya

Foreign Affairs Minister regrets that little progress has been made so far on some of the more substantive proposals on migration

Foreign Affairs Minister George Vella
Foreign Affairs Minister George Vella

Foreign affairs minister George Vella said that efforts to stabilise Libya and achieve a political agreement around a Government of National Unity need to continue, as stabilising Libya is a crucial step in preventing further loss of lives at sea.

Addressing the round table discussion on the European Agenda on Migration, Vella gave a background of the constant and prolonged pressures faced by Malta due to the increasing number of migrants seeking to cross to Europe from sub-Saharan Africa through North Africa.

He stated that, many times, these crossings have resulted in tragedies, bringing home the difficulties faced by migrants and the need for the protection of vulnerable persons. However, these crossings have also emphasised the importance of preventing and deterring irregular migration.

Vella said that the special European Council meeting on migration in April and the proposals presented in the European Agenda on Migration have sent a strong signal of the EU’s resolve to mobilise all efforts to address this challenge comprehensively, by enabling a greater presence at sea, targeting criminal smuggling networks, enhancing partnership with countries of origin and transit and putting into place a fair system for the sharing of responsibilities to help frontline EU Member States.

 He regretted that little progress has been made so far on some of the more substantive proposals.

Vella said that a holistic approach must be adopted and that the results of the European Council last June are most welcome, although much more needs to be done on an EU level. He reiterated that this is a challenge that requires a joint commitment by all involved.

Vella said that cooperation with partner countries of origin and transit in Africa must be enhanced to address the root causes of migration.

He referred to the Summit with African Partners, which will be hosted in Malta in November with the aim of stemming the flow of illegal immigration, combating the smuggling and trafficking of migrants and finding ways to support these countries.

The minister said that decisive action needs to be taken against criminal people smuggling networks.

Vella emphasised that Malta believes that an international anti-human smuggling coalition, mandated by the UN, should be set up and given a mandate to intervene to disrupt smugglers of persons who are making a profit from the plight of migrants.