Maltese bishops appeal for solidarity with rescued migrants at sea

The bishops of Malta and Gozo urge immediate action for the stranded migrant rescue vessels that have been denied clearance and are at the mercy of long days at sea

The Bishops of Malta and Gozo have released a statement calling on the Maltese government to take action and succour the migrants rescued at sea by the vessel Sea-Watch 3, a migrant rescue NGO.

In their statement, the bishops said it was futile recalling the birth of Christ while simultaneously abandoning human beings to death at sea, and urged for an immediate concrete solution.

Sea-Watch, the German NGO, recently slammed ‘Christian’ Malta, as well as Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands for refusing to aid a stranded rescue vessel, which is carrying 32 migrants.

It said the ship, Sea-Watch 3, remained stranded at sea for six days, awaiting clearance in “yet another political limbo” which lays bare the European Union’s reluctance to make even the smallest humanitarian concession to its “deadly anti-migration policy”.

The Archdiocese of Malta likewise lambasted Europe’s inertia on the issue. “It is a source of great concern for us that instead of helping, Europe refuses to offer shelter.”

The bishops recognised the efforts of the Maltese authorities to help a mother and an infant child aboard the migrant vessel by transporting them to Malta via the Armed Forces helicopter.

While also conceding that such a situation was both complex and sensitive, urgent action was required since such a situation placed these migrants between life and death.

“As a people, because of the small size and also because of the strategic geographical position of our country, we always understood and promoted international solidarity, and that is what we need to do in this present situation as well. What use is it for Christians to recall the birth of a child if they do not seek to save these our human brothers and sisters? What use is it for society to promote life while choosing to abandon human beings to face death at sea?

“As we recall the need for solidarity, we understand that we are also committing ourselves to show this same solidarity with those who urgently need help because they are fleeing a cruel environment which violently scorns human dignity; they are fleeing a cruel fate of slavery and even torture and death,” the bishops said in the statement.

In a reference to L-Istrina, the fundraising charity event which raised a record sum of over €7 million on Boxing Day, the bishops concluded by saying that solidarity should not just express itself in monetary donations, but also through concrete actions.