Malta has formally declared its ports “unsafe” and has informed the European Commission that it will no longer accept any irregular migrant arrivals in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Malta’s decision comes a day after Italy declared its ports unsafe for the arrival of migrant vessels.
In a statement, the government said that a number of irregular migrants currently in Malta’s search and rescue zone will be brought to the island in the coming hours and be placed in detention. However, this will be the last batch of irregular migrants it accepts as its ports have now been considered unsafe.
“We are communicating this message so that migrants planning to travel to Malta will be aware of the risks they are placing their lives in,” the government said. “It is therefore in their best interest not to put their lives in danger by embarking on risky voyages towards a country that isn’t in a state to accept them.”
“Over the months and years, Malta was under disproportionate pressure in terms of migrant arrivals and had barely received any tangible help, yet it still saved thousands of lives.”
“Now that the Superintendent of Public Health had declared a public health emergency, the government has decided that any further disembarkations of irregular migrants, who themselves could be infected by the virus, will seriously prejudice all the work that has been done to combat the spread.”