The Malta Independent 21 September 2018, Friday

INDEPTH: Migrant flow shifting towards Spain – Michael Farrugia

INDEPTH online Wednesday, 27 June 2018, 08:57 Last update: about 4 months ago

The recent events involving the MV Aquarius and the MV Lifeline have caused a change in migration flows in the Mediterranean, Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Michael Farrugia said on The Malta Independent’s online interview programme, Indepth, yesterday.

Interviewed by The Malta Independent editor-in-chief Rachel Attard, Farrugia said “After the Aquarius story and the Lifeline story, the situation in the Mediterranean changed.”

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“It changed as well after Spain accepted to take the migrants that there were on the Aquarius,” he said.

The situation has changed in the sense that there has been a shift wherein a substantial part of Mediterranean immigration has shifted to the western side of the sea, with migrants intending to cross into Spain from North Africa.

Indeed, Farrugia said that the amount of migrants in Libya had gone down by 78% and that this decrease has continued and indeed intensified. 

Instead, such migrants are departing from more Western parts of the Mediterranean, and in fact this area has registered a 40% increase in immigrants looking to make the trip to Europe.

Farrugia said that while it is difficult to predict what will happen over the course of the next days and months, he thinks that there will be a reduction in the flow of immigrants coming into the central Mediterranean.

In the same interview, Farrugia also spoke of the need for an agreement between Malta and other European Union states in order to set up a framework for the mandatory sharing of immigrants across Europe.

“I can guarantee that we are going to continue to be very committed to the mandatory option and not the voluntary one,” he said.

This assertion is in response to proposed changes to the European Union’s Dublin Regulation, wherein certain countries are putting forward the notion of relocating immigrants in a voluntary manner.  These are changes that Farrugia “criticised harshly”, saying that “we need to be concrete” and that if a certain percentage of immigrants compared to the country’s population or GDP, it needs to be mandatory for other countries to provide help.

It is “burden sharing that is mandatory and not voluntary”, Farrugia said.

 

He added that the events of the past days  in relation to the MV Lifeline have proven how right the government is in this regard, saying that; “if we are going to stay waiting for a country to voluntarily help, we need to forget that in some way or form solidarity always exists.”

 

 

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