UPDATED (2): AFM rescues 97 immigrants; President Vella discusses immigration
A total of 97 immigrants were landed in Malta by the Armed Forces after being rescued from the search and rescue zone that falls under Malta’s responsibility. The immigrants were landed before 7 am this morning at the AFM Maritime Base at Haywharf after being transported in by Patrol Boat, P 61.
So far this year the AFM have rescued and landed a total of 930 immigrants, the greatest number landed in a single day having been last Wednesday when in a span of 12 hours, 370 persons were rescued and landed.
Meanwhile, immigration was on the agenda during a meeting in Switzerland between President George Vella and the Director General of the International Organisation for Migrants, Antonio Vitorino. The President’s Office said that during the meeting points were discussed that among other things concern matters that affect the Mediterranean region, including repercussions from the unrest in Libya.
Both sides agreed that immigration requires a global solution.
President Vella maintained the need for the situation in Libya to be addressed. He expressed his understanding that violence and the humanitarian crisis will continue to escalate in the country. Director General Vitorino agreed with President Vella and said his Organisation is facing a situation where about 100,000 Libyans have been forced to leave their homes.
President Vella stressed the importance of investment and development projects in Africa, while he encouraged the EU to implement projects that facilitate the exchange of people between Europe and Africa in much the same way as the Erasmus+ programme functions.
During another commitment, the President said the Armed Forces are an example to other companies on immigrant rescue operations. While on a visit to various AFM sections, President Vella thanked AFM personnel for the sacrifices they are making and their efforts to keep the national interest in the very forefront.
He referred to the killing of an immigrant at Hal Far, a case in which two AFM soldiers are alleged to be involved. President Vella said the force does not consist of one or two persons, no matter the magnitude of that person because the force depends on the efforts of many.