After Aquarius Dispute, Prime Minister Demands Regulation Of Migrant Rescue NGOs

'There can't be a compromise when dealing with the lives of people at sea'

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Prime Minister Joseph Muscat spoke highly of NGOs that had stepped forward to help out in the wake of the Aquarius row, and urged them tocontinue their good work, but said that some form of regulatory system should be in place in regards to NGOs as well to avoid any threats of human trafficking. He urged all NGOs as well as countries and organisations to adhere to all international rules and regulations.

"Malta has always complied fully with international regulations," said the Prime Minister. "All of this happened, unfortunately, due to Italy not following regulations."

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said there was no issue between Malta and Italy following the deadlock. He was proud that Malta had followed international regulations and said Malta was in line with the rest of the European Union's beliefs, reiterating his and French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron's convergence in views on immigration in the Mediterranean.

He addressed these questions after attending the opening of Centrecom, a call centre in Mosta Technopark, that is a subsidiary of World Aviation Group.

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Prime Minister Joseph Muscat accompanied by Minister Konrad Mizzi, Minister Chris Cardona and Minister Michael Falzon

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Prime Minister Joseph Muscat with a Centrecom employee

'There can't be a compromise when dealing with the lives of people at sea' - Joseph Muscat

While he foresaw further problems arising from this deadlock, he hoped the European Commission could successfully hold a discussion between countries to see whether the regulations should be followed, and

He pointed out that immigration arrivals had decreased by 70% when compared to last year. Joseph Muscat also said the EU was spending "millions of European taxpayer's money on the Libyan coastguard, and we need to make sure that they are protecting their borders".

He said that if the Libyan Coastguard were having problems, like he had heard they were having in regards to finding specialised fuel, then they need to see what is to be done, but that they had been trained sufficiently.

He also spoke of his respect for Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez

"I've known Prime Minister Sanchez for nine years, and we communicated last night. Personally I was not surprised by what he had done, but at the same time we cannot rely on gestures, we need a system and, in my opinion, if everyone follows the regulations we'd be better off," Joseph Muscat said.

629 migrants were left in the middle of the Mediterranean ocean earlier this week after Italy and Malta refused to allow the ship Aquarius, which they were on, to dock in either country. The issue was resolved in a sense when Spain stepped in and offered to allow the ship to disembark in Spain.

The trip to Spain should take four days, and the international organisation Doctors Without Borders, who are operating the Aquarius, have warned this trip would be exhausting and uncomfortable for the already beleaguered migrants, and that an approaching storm was set to send two metres waves against the ship.

"This plan would mean already exhausted rescued people would endure four more days travel at sea. We call for people's safety to come before politics. The better option would be to disembark the rescued people in the nearest port after which they can be transferred to Spain or other safe countries for further care and legal processing," they said.

Do you think Malta reacted well in the Aquarius row?

READ NEXT: 9 Random Facts About Joseph Muscat That We Learnt From His Interview With Katriel

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Written By

Johnathan Cilia

Johnathan is interested in the weird, dark, and wonderful contradictions our late-capitalist society forces upon us. He also likes music and food. Contact him at johnathan@lovinmalta.com.

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