The Malta Independent 23 September 2019, Monday

Updated (2): Bishops, Opposition Leader, NGOs welcome solution to migrant crisis

Wednesday, 9 January 2019, 13:54 Last update: about 10 months ago

The Bishops of Malta and Gozo today expressed their appreciation to the Government of Malta, the European Commission and the eight European countries, for the solidarity finally shown with the 49 migrants, most of which were stranded at sea for 18 days onboard two NGO rescue vessels.

"We are also grateful to all the organisations that have promoted concrete solidarity with the people involved," the bishops said in a statement. "We recognise that Malta, the smallest European Union member state, was neither the responsible authority nor the nearest port of safety when these migrants were rescued, and laud the efforts made by all parties involved to ensure that human life prevails over every other interest.

"We join the Prime Minister of Malta in thanking the European Commission for providing a European solution for this crisis by co-ordinating the initiative of the relocation of migrants, including the 249 persons rescued at sea by the Armed Forces of Malta."

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia expressed his satisfaction that a solution has been found to the 18-day saga.

He said that he was happy that Malta continued to follow international law and that it did not succumb to pressure of bigger countries, but most of all he was happy that the migrants on board will now be allowed to land safely ashore.

NGOs who on Tuesday approached the Prime Minister with their plea to allow the 49 migrants stranded at sea to disembark also welcomed Malta’s decision to allow the disembarkation.

Disembarkation will ensure that they are provided with safety, shelter, and care, the 43 NGOs said.

“We also appreciate the solidarity expressed by other Member States and institutions of the European Union, in agreeing to share the responsibility of hosting the rescued migrants. Such sharing of responsibilities is essential if the EU is to deal effectively with forced migration in a manner that is fair and respectful of fundamental human rights.

“We underline the need to ensure that each and every one of the migrants is granted full access to asylum procedures so they will be able to get the protection that they need. We sincerely hope that this will not happen again, and that respect for life and human dignity will remain at the heart of Malta’s approach towards refugees and migrants.”

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