Refugees currently in Malta expected to be relocated to the US once again – Minister Bartolo

The new American administration is expected to restart its programme which takes in refugees from other countries which had been stopped by the Trump administration. This information was given to Television Malta by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Evarist Bartolo, in an interview about immigration and Malta’s relationship with Libya.

Minister Bartolo said he spoke with Libya’s nominated PM who has asked Malta for more support during this crucial time when Libya is being rebuilt, and informed him that once the new government is confirmed he will invite PM Robert Abela for talks in Tripoli.

Minister Bartolo and the nominated Libyan PM Abdul Hamid Dbeibah had a positive discussion in which Dbeibah acknowledged that Malta has always offered its help and friendship to Libyans and that the Maltese people are considered friends. He expressed his hope that in this crucial time, which will lead to elections in December, Malta will offer more support.

Asked by Television Malta whether the time has come for the Government to send a political message by re-opening the Maltese Embassy in Tripoli, Minister Bartolo replied that Malta will be the first country to take this step with the Embassy and Consulate expected to start functioning fully within the next few weeks.

“Work is already being carried out on the building where the Embassy will be. We already have a Consul in place to start building the consulate system because the issuing of visas depends on this, and of course we will do everything to be among the first Embassies to re-open.”

He said that Malta will be addressing the problem of visas and resident permits to ensure that unnecessary delays and suffering for Libyans will be avoided.  The nominated Libyan PM said that flights need to recommence between the two countries, with Malta pointing out that in this regard it is being guided by EU authorities. Minister Bartolo expressed his hope that the rebuilding of the Libyan state will lead to the continuation of trade relations. There also need to be talks on themes such as the continental shelf, drilling for oil, and the energy, trade, job and investment opportunities which over the last ten years were dealt a major blow due to the upheaval in Libya.

TVM also spoke with Evarist Bartolo about illegal immigration which he said is a topic over which work has never stopped with the Libyan authorities. The Maltese Government has always insisted that as much as possible there should not be any migrants who leave Libyan shores because they are taking a risk with their lives.

“It is not a solution to tell them come to Malta and then from Malta you can go to another country, because that does not work. If one looks back over 15 years, for every 100 who arrived in our country, only eight were taken by an EU country, the US took double that number when Barack Obama was President and the Biden administration is saying that it will restart the refugee scheme. Therefore we need to work with them so that those who have a right to asylum can go to another country.”

Since 2007, more than 3,200 refugees from Malta have been relocated to the US, until this programme was stopped by Trump. Minister Bartolo believes that the EU needs to do more by helping Libya control its borders, not only around the Mediterranean but the sub Sahara as well, and by seriously fighting human trafficking. It also needs to help people in other African states find work and a future in their own country.