With migration hot on Malta’s agenda, PN Leader Adrian Delia and his challenger Bernard Grech insisted humanity should be at the root of how Malta solves the crisis, but it was the former who set a limit on the growing issue.
“We are more than full-up. We are creating ghettos, areas that are simply not structured. The solution is clear those who don’t qualify for asylum must be sent back to their countries. There are too many irregular economic migrants in Malta.”
“Malta cannot be left to solve Africa’s problems. The EU needs to help take more asylum seekers,” Delia said in the first-ever online episode of Xarabank that was aired on Lovin Malta.
Grech was clear that there are realities in Maltese communities mean that the issue cannot be ignored, but did not go as far as Delia.
“If you push back indiscriminately you lose lives. We have to take care of ourselves but the reality is we cannot send back to danger. Many of them die before even reaching Libya. But we cannot shoulder the burden of migration alone.”
“And lets be clear, there are also many migrants who come with a passport and legally that are creating issues,” Grech said.
Both Grech and Delia were clear that any risk of losing lives should not be tolerated.
According to the UN’s refugee agency in Malta, a total of 1,699 people were rescued at sea and disembarked in the country throughout the first six months of 2020. This translates to a 33% increase in arrivals when comparing figures of the same period last year, despite Malta’s closure of ports from April to June to fight COVID-19.
The sudden influx has stoked tensions in Malta, with a petition calling for an end to illegal migration garnering over 40,000 signatures. Activists who support the cause even say they want a referendum on the issue.
It’s not just grassroots that are making their voices heard. Recently, both the Marsa and Hamrun mayor flagged major issues over migration, with the former saying that the government had no plan over the issue.
Prime Minister Robert Abela had pledged to take action and has initiated talks in Libya. However, a confrontational relationship with incoming asylum seekers and the decision to use a makeshift flotilla to house arrivals has created a frosty relationship with the EU.
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