We are utterly disillusioned by the news that, once more, in the space of less than two weeks, almost 150 people are stranded out at sea in Malta’s SAR, while Malta waits for other European states to step in and offer support.
Yesterday morning, NGOs and media sources reported that some 78 migrants had been rescued from a vessel in distress in Malta’s SAR. They are currently aboard the Marina, a commercial vessel, close to Lampedusa waiting for directions from Malta, the state responsible for ensuring rescue and disembarkation in a safe port, about where to disembark. NGOs monitoring the migrants’ situation have reported that they are lacking food, water and medical care.
A further 57 rescued migrants are on board the Captain Morgan vessel, Europa II, normally used for coastal cruising. The Europa II was chartered by the Maltese government in order to board migrants that were transferred from the private vessel that rescued them. The government has stated that they will remain there, on the high seas, until there are concrete commitments for their relocation from other European states.
Although the migrants aboard the Europa II have been provided with food, water, basic supplies and emergency medical care, this is nowhere near enough to fulfill Malta’s international human rights obligations. This action by the Maltese government directly undermines the protection of human life at Europe’s borders.
We recognise the challenges that Malta and Italy are facing to deal with the increase in boat arrivals with little or no support from other Member States. In spite of this and although facing demanding circumstances, the Italian authorities allowed rescued migrants from two vessels to disembark in Lampedusa this weekend.
However, these challenges cannot be used as an excuse to abdicate our responsibility to save lives and to ensure that the rights of all within our jurisdiction are safeguarded. This duty is not only a legal but also a moral imperative which can never be subjected to political conditions, such as the availability of concrete offers of relocation.
While it is no doubt important to safeguard public health and secure our national borders, this cannot, and should never be, at the cost of the life or safety of others, especially those fleeing conflict zones and seeking refuge.
We urge the government to prioritise the safety and security of the men, women and children on board the Marina and Europa II, and to allow the rescued migrants to disembark in Malta.
We also appeal to Member States to act on the basis of the principle of solidarity and the fair sharing of responsibilities. Case-by-case arrangements and ad hoc solutions are contributing to dangerous political games and unnecessary suffering. We urge you to prioritise life and let them in!
- aditus foundation
- African Media Association Malta
- Anti-Poverty Forum Malta
- Association for Justice, Equality and Peace (AJEP)
- Blue Door English
- Christian Life Community Malta
- Church Homes for the Elderly
- Dar Hosea
- Department for Inclusion and Access to Learning
- Fondazzjoni Sebh
- Great Oak Malta Association
- Integra Foundation
- Jesuit Refugee Service Malta
- Justice & Peace Commission
- Kunsill Nazzjonali taż-Żgħażagħ
- Malta Emigrants’ Commission
- Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM)
- Migrant Women Association Malta
- Moviment Graffitti
- OASI foundation
- Office of the Dean of the Faculty of Education
- Office of the Dean of the Faculty for Social Wellbeing
- Paolo Freire Institute
- People for Change Foundation
- Salesians Osanna Pia Home
- Segretarjat Assistenza Socjali tal-Azzjoni Kattolika Maltija
- SOS Malta
- St Jeanne Antide Foundation
- The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation
- Women’s Rights Foundation