We are disgusted at the situation of over 160 men detained on the Captain Morgan ships, some for more than three weeks. In detaining them out at sea, Malta is denying them basic human rights, dignity and voice. The human body and the human spirit can only endure so much. These young men have been exposed to too much trauma, we fear their physical and mental well-being will deteriorate fast. Malta is responsible for their ongoing detention out at sea and for the conditions they are forced to endure.
We remind the authorities that these are compounded by the psychological distress that they would have been forced to endure in the past weeks and months throughout their journey, including the violence that they would have been exposed to in Libya.
aditus foundation, Integra Foundation and JRS Malta today sent an open letter to EU Commissioner Johansson. In our letter we express our concerns at Malta’s novel idea of detaining rescued migrants aboard 2 chartered private vessels just outside our territorial waters.
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!
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
Department for Inclusion and Access to Learning
Great Oak Malta Association
Jesuit Refugee Service Malta
Justice & Peace Commission
Kunsill Nazzjonali taż-Żgħażagħ
Malta Emigrants’ Commission
Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM)
Migrant Women Association Malta
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
It aims to provide up-to-date information on asylum practice in 23 European countries, which is accessible to researchers, advocates, legal practitioners and the general public. The database also seeks to promote the implementation and transposition of EU asylum legislation reflecting the highest possible standards of protection in line with international refugee and human rights law and based on best practice. The 2019 AIDA report on Malta was researched and prepared by aditus foundation and edited by ECRE.
Together with a comprehensive overview of asylum procedures and updated figures, the report highlights the main issues for the year 2019, in particular the significant increase of migrants disembarked in Malta following Search and Rescue operations leading to a renewed pressure on the reception system and the systematic and automatic detention of all asylum-seekers.
Hey all! I hope everyone is safe and taking all the precautions needed.
This week I started writing this blog post on Easter Sunday. My family and I were gathered around the kitchen table with warm food that my sisters and I had prepared. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by my family. As I had this wonderful image in front of me, I could not stop but think about the people stranded at sea. My social media was bombarded with news on how a group of asylum-seekers where stranded at sea. These articles had a profound impact on me and that’s why I decided to write this blog post.
I thought, “at the moment there are groups of men, women and children who are aboard a rubber boat, which has been stranded for more than five days now. They are facing the risk of being left to drown during those days of religious celebration for Christians, since both Malta and Italy closed their ports, having declared that they are unsafe“.
We are living in a time when we are experiencing fear for our lives and our health. We started panicking, buying everything in bulk and protecting our loved ones however we can. Yet now that there are innocent people drowning in our waters, we decided to turn our back on them. We leave them alone with no help and what is the popular message? “LET THEM DROWN”.
We are feeling very anxious and experiencing fear from the COVID-19 pandemic. But I feel this is incomparable to what is causing migrants to leave their home countries and displace their families. At this point a poem by Warsan Shire called ‘Home‘ comes to my mind. The first two lines in this poem are:
“no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark…”
Warsan Shire, Home.
These lines underline that refugees would not leave their homes unless home is where there is war, terrorist attacks, radical political views, persecution, or other serious human rights issues.
And what do they get? Close to zero compassion. EU citizens turning their backs on them. You would think we would be more compassionate during this time and that it comes natural to help people in distress…at least for me. Since COVID-19 hit our island we have seen numerous acts of kindness and our social media has been flooded with images showing these acts.
However it is different for migrants. It seems like they do not deserve our compassion. They should go back. We do not have space for them. We are full!
What happened on 15 April 2020?
At this point five people were found dead on a boat in Maltese search and rescue waters. What about the others, you ask? Well, the others were sent back to Libya. Alarm Phone, an organisation operating an alarm number for migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea, said in a tweet:
53 people were returned to Libya. 5 of them are dead.
They were illegally abducted in Malta SAR zone & Malta is responsible for these deaths and for returning the survivors to war, rape and torture.
We are still verifying if it is the boat with ~55 people that was missing.
Luckily, there are some people trying to put pressure on the Government!
On Easter Sunday, Xandru Cassar and Lara Mohnani, started a protest in front of Auberge de Castille. In a Times of Malta article Xandru said, “that he wanted to bring attention to the “suffering and danger of the lives of those who are stranded at sea”.
Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna said in a tweet, “all persons in distress within Malta’s SAR zone should be rescued & their safety should always be guaranteed. Saving lives & ensuring their disembarkation at a safe place is a fundamental legal obligation and also a moral imperative that can in no way be negotiated or renounced.”
Peppi Azzopardi, host of a famous TV programme, wrote a poem called ‘Madonna xi ġralna’, translated and explained on a MaltaToday article. “”The virus: yesterday 53, today 33. My God, what has happened to us, it didn’t allow us to stay together, how it is spreading everywhere… the water entering our boat,” Azzopardi writes in his poem, which starts from the point of view of a person stranded at sea on a vessel. His poem then shifts to the perspective of a country which has closed its ports due to the coronavirus. “Sorry, little boy, I know you are not to blame, but we’ve now closed our ports. I’m sorry they didn’t manage to inform you that we won’t be saving you. We are facing many problems – you better drown quietely.”“
I feel sad and angry, to say the least, by the news that we let down innocent people. Five of them died unfairly while the others are back to a land of horrors, all because Malta chose to play a political game with peoples’ lives. I am completely speechless. All I have to say to these people is that we are sorry that we have let you down.
#KeepingUpWithTheInterns is part of our project Marginalised Persons as Human Rights Volunteers. If you want to follow Matthew and Rimaz as they navigate their way through Malta’s human rights landscape, subscribe to our News & Updates or follow them on our social media pages!
This project has been funded through the Voluntary Organisations Project Scheme managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector on behalf of Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sports and Voluntary Organisations within the Ministry for Education and Employment. This project/publication reflects the views only of the author, and the MEDE and the MCVS cannot be held responsible for the content or any use which may be made of the information contained therein.