A small group of protestors gathered in Valletta this evening to criticise the armed forces for not stopping two boats of asylum seekers in their tracks before they arrived in Malta.
“Where are the Maltese soldiers who should be defending our territory?” protest leader Raymond Ambrogio asked. “How did these migrants enter when in 2021 the army should be equipped with sophisticated apparatus that can even spot a fly entering the country?”
Last week, five Syrians and three Egyptians were arrested after they arrived by boat in Wied iż-Żurrieq and started walking towards Għar Lapsi. A few days later, a dinghy carrying 55 people entered Wied il-Buni in Birżebbuġa.
Ambrogio insisted EU military vessels should be sent to the Mediterranean to push asylum seekers back to Libya. In this vein, he criticised a new European Parliament investigation, spearheaded by Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola, into alleged abuse and illegal migrant pushbacks by EU border agency Frontex.
“They’re going to be investigating Frontex for pushing back illegal migrants from Greece to Turkey, even though Turkey is a stable and economically strong country as far as I know,” he said. “Amazingly, a Maltese person [Roberta Metsola] is trying to stop Frontex from defending the EU’s borders… we need them here in our waters and not in front of a disciplinary board.”
The protest was originally organised to pressure Parliament to debate its petition for a referendum over the “organised invasion by illegal immigrants”.
It also calls on Malta to pressure the EU into setting up asylum processing bases in Spain, France and Italy, with the island’s responsibilities limited to rescuing migrants in danger and then taking them to the closest base.
Although the organisers originally invited people to join them and stay in groups of six, they then told the people to watch them from home after the island registered the largest daily rise in COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.