Prime Minister Robert Abela opened up about his recent trip to Libya and the fears and concerns it raised among his family and those around him.
“I wasn’t planning on saying this… but I can’t forget my wife telling me as I was leaving: ‘don’t forget you’ve got a little eight-year-old girl. This is not a responsible decision you are taking,'” Abela recounted during an interview with Labour Party-owned media channel ONE.
Robert and Lydia Abela have an eight-year-old daughter together, the bubbly and popular Giorgia Mae.
“These are the circumstances that we were working in to address the migration problem in our country,” Abela said.
He spoke about how he needed to carry a bulletproof vest in his luggage when he travelled to the North African country in an attempt to find a solution to the ongoing migration crisis in the Mediterranean that Malta finds itself in.
“We went to Libya because we felt it was needed, needed to protect the safety of the Maltese people during a pandemic where we had migrants trying to enter our shores,” Abela said.
Saying that Libya was in total lockdown due to the pandemic, Abela said he took the “responsible decision” to go… but was quickly warned of the dangers
“They told us that in reality, COVID-19 was a small problem there… the real problem is that we wouldn’t be able to find a plane to take us,” Abela said.
And when they did eventually find one, they faced another problem: the very real risk of being shot out of the air when the plane is taking-off or about to land.
“This is the context we were working in, and just like yesterday, these are the decisions we needed to take, one after the other,” he said.
During the same interview, Abela also spoke about the incident that took place on Malta’s former flotilla of commercial cruise ships that were being used to house up to 425 migrants for the last 40 days.
He claimed the migrants had taken over the kitchen, seized knives and gave the Maltese government 30 minutes before they would explode a gas canister on board the ship. The migrants were brought to Malta late last night.