Prime Minister Robert Abela warned of a “problematic summer” for irregular migration, reiterating that Maltese interest will always come first on the issue.
“We’re heading for a tough summer for irregular migration, it’s going to be problematic, even from a few months before,” Abela said during a political activity.
Malta has seen an increase in arrivals of irregular migrants and asylum seekers in recent years, placing significant pressure on open and closed centres. Last year, significant controversy erupted when the government took a tough stance on the issue and at points blocked entry to migrant vessels.
“It is a complex problem,” Abela said, “but we cannot continue shouldering the burden on our own, the rest of Europe has done it”.
Abela, who said that the interests of Maltese and Gozitans will come first, insisted that areas like Marsa and Birzebbuga cannot be left to deal with the issues alone.
The Prime Minister said that despite the concerns for the summer, the government will continue working with Libyan authorities to address the issue at its source by trying to limit the number of boat crossings.
He also referenced a court case concerning the government and Armed Forces decision to block the entry of a migrant vessel last summer. Abela said that it was AFM officers who truly understood the issue, praising the work they accomplish.
Diskors tal-Prim Ministru u Mexxej Laburista, Robert Abela fil-Floriana
Posted by Partit Laburista on Sunday, February 14, 2021
Abela also backed the appointment of 19-year-old Carlos Zarb to FinanceMalta’s board of governors, following criticism last week.
Abela addressed the recent controversy over the appointment, directing his criticism as MP David Thake and journalist Manuel Delia.
Thake was the first to raise concerns over the appointment. Zarb, a St Paul’s Bay local councillor and, was first appointed to the board in May 2020.
Zarb at the time was the Chairman of the National Youth Committee. Abela said regulations stipulate that the Chairman is granted a place on the board. However, Zarb left that role a month after his appointment.
Abela said that Zarb was a capable individual, saying that he could teach Thake and Delia a lesson.
“Thake abdicated his role as St Paul’s Bay Deputy Mayor, Zarb went in to help solve the community’s issues,” he said.
Abela said that he would always back youths, saying that he would always find space for them to work within important roles.
He closed the speech by appealing for national unity.
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