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Watch: Silvio Schembri Says Four-Year-Old Loujin’s Death At Sea Is ‘A Failure Of European Migration Policies’ 

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Economy Minister Silvio Schembri has described the death of a four-year-old asylum seeker in Malta’s search and rescue area as a “failure of European immigration policies”.

Interviewed by Andrew Azzopardi on 103 Malta’s Heart this morning, Schembri deflected criticism aimed at the government over the death of Loujin, who reportedly died of thirst.

“It is a very sensitive topic, especially when it comes to deaths… every death is a death but I think that the death of children has an even great impact,” he said. “However, you can’t discuss the topic by just pointing at an ugly situation.”

“An explanation was given on how things developed [in the Loujin case]… it’s not an issue of the government but a failure of European immigration politics.”

“We often suffer the worst effects of this failure as it’s impossible for the smallest member state to burden a greater responsibility than it can cope with.”

Schembri urged the government to display the same sense of solidarity with Malta over irregular migration as it did with Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

“Look at how the EU united over the Ukraine war and how powerful that was. The Ukraine war was close to certain countries and Europe united, but migration impacts southern Mediterranean countries the most.”

“It’s a good thing that this solidarity was shown with Ukraine but we wish there was more solidarity with us over [irregular migration].”

Archbishop Charles Scicluna speaks at a vigil in honour of Loujin yesterday afternoon

Archbishop Charles Scicluna speaks at a vigil in honour of Loujin yesterday afternoon

Loujin was part of a group of Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian migrants who recently sailed from Lebanon to Italy when their boat ran into trouble in the central Mediterranean, within Malta’s search and rescue zone, but off 450 nautical miles off Malta and 70NM off Crete.

Activist group Alarm Phone, which said it was in touch with the migrants via a satellite phone, has criticised the Maltese, Greek and Italian authorities for not responding to its repeated requests to launch a rescue mission.

However, the Armed Forces of Malta said that as soon as they were informed of the case, they immediately contacted the Greek authorities to evacuate the migrants to Crete, as the nearest place of safety in line with international conventions.

The AFM warned that, because Malta was so far away from the scene, more migrants could have died if their boat wasn’t immediately sent to Crete.

Do you think the Maltese authorities should have done more to save Loujin’s life?

READ NEXT: Churches And Showrooms Should Switch Off Their Lights Late At Night, Maltese Professor Urges 

Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society brought about by technological advances. He’s passionate about justice, human rights and cutting-edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or reach out to him at [email protected]

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