Malta has called on the European Union to immediately launch a humanitarian mission in Libya with a package of at least €100 million in food, assistance, medicines and medical equipment. Foreign and European Affairs Minister, Evarist Bartolo, warned that if the EU does not take immediate action today, we may face a human catastrophe tomorrow.
Minister Bartolo delivered the warning to the European Union to act on the immigration crisis in Libya as the Coronavirus pandemic worsened the situation and a greater number of migrants are fleeing from crowded camps and risking to cross the Mediterranean sea with the hope of arriving in Europe.
In a social media message, Minister Bartolo called on the EU to avoid a major humanitarian disaster and immediately assist Libya and migrants there by launching a financial package of not less than €100 million for supplies of food, medicines, medical equipment and other assistance.
The Foreign Minister said that things are getting more difficult due a decrease of humanitarian assistance on the ground due to the pandemic, while Italy and Malta closed their ports as all their resources are being used for the containment of the pandemic.
Mr Bartolo recalled that in recent years Malta rescued thousands of people and surpassed its legal obligations in rescue context. He added that in a situation where demand for rescue is increasing, the only realistic and sustainable option to avoid a crisis and lives are saved is that Europe launches an immediate humanitarian mission in Libya, while Malta is ready to oversee that assistance reaches its destination.
Minister Bartolo said that the European assistance in Libya reduces the demand for the inhuman trafficking of persons as traffickers are taking advantage of people’s misery. He said that non-government organisations, who are encouraging migrants to leave for Europe illegally, are participants in this human tragedy.
The Minister stated that Europe is now facing an existential crisis; now is not a time for words but of action to save people’s lives.
He added that Malta is ready to be active, however he made it clear that this challenge of a European dimension entails a European response. If Malta is left alone to face this disproportionate crisis – he said – persons, children, pregnant women and rape victims will die.
Minister Bartolo spoke on the need to reduce the pressure on this crisis and avoid its explosion, while maintaining that the EU should take immediate action today before a human catastrophe occurs tomorrow.