Current Affairs
‘Malta has always been left alone to shoulder the immigration crisis’

While continuing their human trafficking of irregular immigrants and continuing to line their pockets with cash, Captain Morgan vessels are continuing to be loaded with these immigrants within Malta’s search and rescue zone. There are now three vessels stranded at Hurd’s Bank, which is just out of Malta’s territorial waters, with just over 280 immigrants on board following four recent rescue operations. With France the only EU Member Country accepting to relocate 30 immigrants, the Government is continuing to resist allowing them to disembark in Malta while only allowing pregnant women and children to disembark and land. Meanwhile, in a special report on illegal immigration that was transmitted on Television Malta, it emerged that each boat loaded with immigrants is earning the traffickers $US 60,000 each time.

Merchant vessels are choosing to give Malta a wide berth by lengthening their route to avoid nearing Malta and being obliged to take part in rescue operations of boats embarking from Libya and heading for Europe. According to international convention, commercial vessels may be requested to assist in rescue operations coordinated by rescue centres, including Malta and Rome.

The special Television Malta programme on human trafficking revealed the huge profits being made by the traffickers organising such clandestine voyages to Europe. Ahmed Al-Dabbashi, known as “the Uncle” was identified as one of the main trafficking organisers.

Al-Dabbashi operates from Sabratha in the west of Tripoli which is regarded as one of the main embarkation points, together with Surman, Al-Zawija, Tajura and Garabulli. Interviewed during the programme, Omar Grech, the Director of the Centre of Studies on the Practice of Resolutions of Conflicts, said the traffickers enjoy the blessing of the two Libyan factions involved in Libya’s civil war.

He said the militias are doing their best to exploit irregular immigration by selling places on boats to immigrants and pocketing about 50 to 60 American dollars from each boat loaded. The money is then used to buy armaments.

The programme examined records of the frequency of rescue requests made. It resulted that as soon as a boat crosses longitude 34 in the west, this means it has now entered Malta’s search and rescue zone.

Also interviewed during the programme, former Prime Minister Laurence Gonzi stated Malta has never been shown any EU solidarity helping to deal with the immigration crisis. He clarified this by stating the fault lay with Prime Ministers sitting around a table seeking their own national interests, mainly PMs of northern countries not faced with the problem and not wanting to shoulder any of the burdens.

Former Prime Minister and current Europarliamentarian Alfred Sant stated that much talk about immigration had taken place in European fora but ultimately each State had concluded in favour of their national interest. He said that not only had not support been shown but there was a lack of cohesion showing that Europe is not united in its discussions in wanting to reach just conclusions but more in deciding in their own interests.

The Sudanese Consul to Malta, Elsadig Ishaq, said the Sudanese Government is trying to stop the trafficking that is exploiting thousands of Sudanese who end up in Malta after a dangerous voyage. He said international community support is needed, particularly from the European Union.

The special report on immigration may be viewed at hawn.

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