Malta refutes Salvini’s claim of unfulfilled promise to take in migrants

Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini claimed Malta hadn’t kept its pledge of taking in 50 migrants who arrived in Italy in July 2018

The Maltese government has rejected claims by Italian interior minister Mattero Salvini that Malta failed to abide by a pledge to take in a number of migrants who had landed in Italy last July
The Maltese government has rejected claims by Italian interior minister Mattero Salvini that Malta failed to abide by a pledge to take in a number of migrants who had landed in Italy last July

The Maltese government has refuted claims by Matteo Salvini that Malta had failed to abide by its pledge to take in a number of migrants who had landed in Italy last summer.

It said that it was “disdained and surprised” at the “inaccurate allegations” made by the Italian interior minister.

Salvini, writing on Twitter on Wednesday, accused Malta of failing to keep its promise of taking in 50 of the 447 migrants who had arrived in Pozzallo on 16 July 2018.

While Germany, France, Portugal, Ireland and Spain had taken 23, 50, 19, 16 and 21 migrants respectively, the far-right minister said Malta had ended up taking none.

In a statement this morning, Malta, however, advised the Italian government to “revise its statistics and refrain from repeating unfounded claims”.

Recounting how the course of events had unfolded, the government said that when the Lifeline case had taken place, Italy had pledged to take 50 migrants from Malta.

When the second case in question - the Pozzallo landing - had occurred, Italy had requested support for a voluntary intra-EU reallocation of the migrants, with Malta having been the first nation to respond by pledging to take from Italy the same number its neighbour to the north had earlier pledged to take from Malta in the Lifeline case.

“After several requests from Malta, when the Italian and Maltese experts eventually got together to decide the modalities to fulfil these pledges, it was agreed that  - since both countries had agreed to take the same amount from each other, and since these migrants are human beings who had already suffered a difficult crossing and rescue - rather than have them undergo another voyage to another state, each country would retain 50, and thus fulfil its pledges by cancelling each other’s pledge,” the government said.

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“Therefore, Malta retained the 50 from the Lifeline that should have been transferred to Italy and Italy retained 50 from the Pozzallo case that should have been transferred to Malta.”

Malta also reminded Italy that the European Commission's Migration and Home Affairs directorate, which was coordinating the modalities of these voluntary reallocation initiatives, considers both Malta and Italy to have fulfilled their pledges to each other.

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