With the ‘Alan Kurdi’ vessel still waiting outside Maltese territorial waters, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat stood his ground and insisted it was not fair that Malta was being asked to solve a problem it did not create.
The ship picked up 64 migrants off the Libyan coast on 3 April and has been refused entry by Malta, Italy and Spain.
“We cannot send a signal to other countries that they can do what they want and dump the problem on Malta,” Muscat said.
Stressing that the government acted in accordance to international maritime law, Muscat said that vessel “ decided not to go Tunisia, which is considered a safe country, the opted to go to Italy who did not let them.”
“It is not fair to point fingers at Malta and say we are not performing our duty. Malta did not create this situation and now we are being asked to solve it. We are always ready to help but we cannot expect to carry all of the weight,” he explained adding that the country held when it came to the ‘El Hiblu’ vessel.
Reports have since emerged that France is willing to take 20 migrants from the ship.
NGOs and the UN have all expressed concern over the issue, however, with a developing crisis over in Libya it remains to be seen whether these repeated diplomatic standoffs will escalate further.
The conflict erupted in the country after the Libyan National Army (LNA), a proxy government led by General Khalifa Haftar, launched a military offensive against the UN-backed government in Tripoli, the Government of National Accord (GNA).
Addressing the issue and whether Malta would be offering assistance as it had in 2011, Muscat said that contact with both sides was important and occurs frequently.
“The reality in Libya over the past years is that you need to speak to everyone. We were not asked to provide any kind of assistance in this regard and speculation that people will come for care is not true as there is no request in this regard,” he said.
Well-informed sources previously told Lovin Malta that Mater Dei Hospital is undergoing preparations for a potential ‘influx’ of humanitarian aid despite ‘tight’ resources.
Caption Photo: Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS).