‘Malta must not ignore humanitarian tragedies’ – Coleiro Preca

Hosted on TVM's Reporter, President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca laments lack of patriotism, insists Malta must not ignore unfolding migrant humanitarian tragedies

President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca has called on Malta to take notice of the unfolding humanitarian tragedies in the Mediterranean. Photo: Ray Attard / MediaToday
President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca has called on Malta to take notice of the unfolding humanitarian tragedies in the Mediterranean. Photo: Ray Attard / MediaToday

Just days after an incident involving a boat heavily laden with migrants claimed the lives of 29 asylum seekers some 80 miles off the coast of Lampedusa, President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca has called on Malta to take notice of the unfolding humanitarian tragedies.

Sunday’s deaths were the latest in a series of humanitarian tragedies, which have so far claimed the lives of hundreds of asylum seekers. On Monday, Italian authorities recovered five bodies after rescuing 61 people from a sinking migrant boat in waters south of Sicily.

Hosted on TVM’s Reporter by presenter Saviour Balzan, Coleiro Preca insisted that the latest humanitarian tragedies are just the tip of the iceberg, explaining that many of the treacherous and often fatal journeys go unnoticed.

“Malta must not ignore this humanitarian tragedy right on its doorstep. I strongly believe that the absolute majority of the Maltese is in fact sympathetic with the plight of migrants,” she said.

While recounting racist messages she has received since being appointed president – among which include barrages of criticism at her calls for support for asylum seekers – Coleiro Preca insisted that Malta’s generosity must not only be present in their generosity to foreign countries, but must also be prevalent in the wake of such tragedies.

“The Maltese people are not those who would leave people die at sea. We cannot ignore this problem. If the victim was your son, would you do nothing? I do not think so,” Coleiro Preca held.

The President also warned of the rising conflict in Libya, Syria and the Middle East, arguing that the rising tensions could see more migrants arriving in Malta.  She also said that the international community is oblivious to the ongoing massacre and is doing nothing. In Gaza alone, 500 people are said to have been killed in the recent clashes between Palestine and Israel.  

Coleiro Preca also insisted that the integration of migrants must be two-fold: Malta must open its arms and welcome migrants, while on the other hand, migrants themselves must integrate to the Maltese society.

“Migrants must strive to integrate in Malta. They must learn the culture, the language, the history, and must adapt to the culture.”

Lamenting the country’s “lack of awareness of Malta’s history,” Coleiro Preca also took umbrage at the lack of patriotism and pride, recounting how a group of Maltese players snubbed the national anthem during a recent sporting event in Malta.

“I recently went to a match in Malta, where on one hand, I saw the foreign players proudly embrace each other and sing their national anthem, while on the other hand, the Maltese team snubbed the national anthem,” the president said.

Insisting that any changes within society should “reflect the needs of society,” Coleiro Preca explained that the proposed drug reform – which amongst others proposes that persons caught in possession of drugs for personal use will no longer face criminal proceedings – adopted a cautious approach, insisting that any policy must reflect what Maltese society needs.

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