Malta Diary IMMIGRATION ISSUES EXPLODE … AGAIN – Malta in the Eye of the Storm
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Unsurprisingly, the Central Mediterranean issue with illicit immigration problems has reared its ugly head again – unsurprisingly because nobody has actually done anything about it except to pronounce this involves Italy and Malta and these two have to deal with it.
So much for European unity, for all the “we are one” pontificating, and the “one for all, and all for one” Musketeer solidarity.
The history of this needs no great explaining. In his hey-day the late Libyan dictator Mu’Ammar Gaddaffi threatened to engulf Europe with Muslim #migrants and thus blackmailed Europe into letting him have his way. Personalities like Silvio Berlusconi (among others), kow-towed to him, hugged and slapped him on the back and said what a good chap he is – and handed hundreds of millions of euros to him.
All that changed when the people of Libya decided that Mu’Ammar was not such a good chap after all, and with US and EU help revolted and brutally murdered him.
Since then, all hell has broken loose. Libya disintegrated into tribes and factions and within those factions developed criminal gangs which saw their prosperous and bumper financial future in immigrant-trafficking. The avalanche began.
The trick is to squeeze sizeable amounts of money out of desperate people lured by the “riches” that are supposed to exist in “new world” Europe, load them into shoddy boats and dinghies that are hardly sea-worthy, tow them to the fringe of Libyan territorial waters and then abandon the boats and let them drift with the currents.
One further psychological trick is always to ensure that every boatload includes legions of children and at least three or four heavily-pregnant women to ensure the Europeans carry out emotionally urgent rescues because they are “a soft-touch”.
Earlier on Italian coastguards and Malta’s Armed Forces carried out the rescues and took the consignments to the nearest Italian and Maltese ports; as the numbers began to grow and grow, the native inhabitants became more and more restless.
Immigration tragedies for humanity continue with reports by Libyan Coastguards stating that about 100 persons are believed to have drowned off the Libyan coast while 14 others were rescued (29-06-2018).
Then, a new phenomenon transpired. The war in Syria escalated as did the persecution of Christians in Iraq and hundreds of thousands flocked to Lebanon and embarked on boats for the Greek Islands, hence to Greece and further hence to Eastern Europe until at a point these sealed their borders and said “no way, no more”.
The trafficking temporarily veered to the Eastern Mediterranean between Morocco and Spain but has now returned in full force to the Central Mediterranean and a new phenomenon – NGO vessels carrying out searches and rescues, ostensibly for “humanitarian reasons” which are now raising great doubts too.
While all this was happening over the last two years Malta enjoyed a respite from arrivals unless of a dire emergency nature, with consignments being taken to Italian ports.
In addition, Malta has been classified by the United Nations as having taken one of the greatest numbers of immigrants when compared in ratio to size and native population. In the interim, Italy was flooded with immigrant arrivals.
As a background to all this, the EU continued to wring its hands, moan and groan but did nothing. The Dublin Agreement solved little because of non-adherence by many countries and burden-sharing was a flop with Eastern European countries simply refusing to take their quota – although Malta was the first to take up its full quote.
The current hiatus came about with the swing of summer and a new Italian Government determined to stand up and stamp out further immigration. It has done so through Internal Minister Matteo Salvini who cheekily pronounced “no more in Italy – start taking them to Malta” as well as launching a strong attack on interfering NGOs participating in the trafficking.
Naturally, this raised Malta’s hackles and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced Malta would be fulfilling its international obligations but nothing more.
It is difficult to discern whether close neighbours Italy and Malta have really fallen out over the matter or whether they did so in cooperation to draw shock-attention to the situation. Two NGO vessels were at the centre of the storm. The ship Aquarius spent a few days bobbing about at sea with 600 immigrants on board before being given clearance by Spain to dock in Valencia and with France offering to take some of the load.
Then came the MV Lifeline with over 230 immigrants on board which was refused permission to enter either Malta or Italy. This finally caused the EU to do something and last week an urgent conference was held in Brussels and reached a few Resolutions but one has to wait and see how these will pan out. Apparently one of these is the creation of “centres” to receive arrivals.
Meanwhile, late last week, Lifeline was allowed to enter Malta for “humanitarian” reasons with eight other countries agreeing to share out the arrivals. The vessel’s captain was placed under arrest because the ship is registered as “a pleasure boat” and not a rescue boat at all and because the captain refused to obey legitimate orders given to him by both the Italian and Maltese authorities, while being disowned by Holland where the boat is supposed to be registered.
There matters currently stand as I write this. However, it is being estimated that throughout the summer many, many thousands will be making the crossing. What will happen?
More importantly what developments have there been in Italy and Malta as a result of these invasions? It is all very well for the Pope and his Bishops to pontificate about “our brothers and sisters” being welcomed with open arms and invited into our homes. That has not provided any solutions – more importantly, this has NOT happened.
There has been an escalation of crime in both countries with Courts working overtime to arraign those accused of drugs pedalling, theft and many cases of rape. The majority – unskilled – and having little or no knowledge of Italian or English – have drifted into menial construction jobs, refuse cleaning and other labouring work, to be exploited and underpaid.
In Malta’s case, there is another complexity because due to Schengen Rules the country has been invaded by numbers of Eastern Europeans and this has brought criminal gangs of pickpockets, professional burglars and cases of sexual white-slave trafficking.
Integration has not worked either for a great number of reasons. You cannot blend cultures, beliefs and religions overnight. As a result a number of black “ghettoes” have developed into which Maltese do not enter.
In short a total all-round disaster and absolutely no real and tangible solutions being brought forward to solve anything. Many politicians have been calling for “Plans” but it is difficult what “plans” can be put in motion when most countries seem to be disagreeing with all others and an absence of unified plans.
Meanwhile PM Joseph Muscat has clarified Malta’s stance. Malta will continue to follow International Regulations and honour its obligations. Beginning with the MV Lifeline arrivals, those that have genuine reasons for wanting to flee their country of origin because of war or persecution will be allowed to stay and will be shared with other EU countries. Those that have not, with the help of EU Institutions, will be sent back. A further step – NGO ships carrying immigrants will no longer be allowed to enter Maltese ports.
At this point, EU supremos are suggesting “reception camps” and “reception platforms”. North African countries have already made it clear they will NOT host such platforms.
Tricky times lie ahead with a similar situation fast developing in the US borders with Latin and Central America.
Meanwhile, Malta Government port authorities have impounded two further NGO vessels besides ‘Lifeline’ said to have registration irregularities. One is “Seefuchs” (sounds rather obscene in English pronunciation!), apparently also registered as a “pleasure boat” and the other is ‘Seawatch 3’ for tonnage irregularities.
NGO vessels, all well-financed and said to have “humanitarian feelings” have become adept at collecting immigrants and dumping them in Malta or Italian ports and then sailing out to collect more. The question is, why don’t they take them to their own points of registration or nationality (like say, Holland, or Germany)?
“Don’t leave important decisions and actions for tomorrow; take them and implement them today”.