[WATCH] Chris Fearne sticks to government line and insists on European solution to migrant standoff

In the face of local and international calls for solidarity, deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne has insisted that Malta can't deal with an international migration crisis alone

Chris Fearne, Parliamentary Secretary for Health. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Chris Fearne, Parliamentary Secretary for Health. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

The case of the two NGO ships with 49 migrants on board has to be dealt with on a European level, Chris Fearne said on Monday. 

Asked whether Malta was acting in a humanitarian way by refusing to take in the migrants abroad the Sea-Watch and Professor Albrecht Penck rescue vessels, which are currently sheltering from bad weather within Maltese territorial waters, the Deputy Prime Minister insisted that the Prime Minister had been very clear in his stance on Sunday.

"As a country, Malta has taken in a good number of migrants. Per capita, I'd say we welcomed the highest number," Fearne said, "But we obviously cannot deal with all of Europe's burden ourselves."

Fearne said that he agreed with the government's policy of discussing the matter with other countries, and sharing the burden while still maintaining the standards of humanity.

Pressed on what he thought should be done in the immediate, given that the migrants, who include children have been on the ships for over two weeks, Fearne said EU discussions were ongoing to solve the issue.

"I am informed that discussions are taking place so that we can offer a [humanitarian] service to the migrants, but on a European scale," he added.

On Sunday, Pope Francis appealed to EU leaders to show solidarity with towards the persons on board the two vessels. His appeal came as Joseph Muscat vowed he could not allow the rescue migrants to disembark in Malta, so as not to create a precedent.

The Prime Minister also said that Malta was seeking reassurances from the EU that a solution will be in place if such a situation arises again.

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