The Malta Independent 22 February 2020, Saturday

TMID Editorial: Migration - Let us all pull the same end of the same rope

Saturday, 17 August 2019, 09:44 Last update: about 7 months ago

The immigration issue is a hot topic in Malta, largely dividing the country into those who want the government to let distressed people stranded at sea into its ports, and then deal with their placement after, and those who let us just say they do not want them anywhere near here.

At the moment, on the Open Arms vessel, there are 151 people on board whilst 356 people have just been rescued in recent days by the Ocean Viking. The sun burns unforgivably on these people while they await their fate, which is in the hands of politicians.

The UN Refugee Agency is calling on European governments to allow the immediate disembarkation of these people stranded out at sea, as little action has been taken so far.

While understanding that the issue is highly political, even within an EU context, many have noted that these people should not be used as political pawns. But even in Malta, the government and the opposition continue to portray them as such.

This week, Leader of the Opposition Adrian Delia made the bold move of saying that the government should take in the migrants stranded out at sea, and together forcefully make Malta’s case to the rest of Europe.

This may not be a popular opinion for all PN supporters, so kudos to him.

The Labour Party’s news arm, ONE News, however, pounced on this with an article headlining how Delia is appealing to the government to let immigrants in. Although this in itself is nothing wrong, we all know that One News would never write anything positive about Delia. So what they are implying is that taking in migrants is negative.

While it is understandable that the government is cautious about the situation, as other governments in Europe are, making it a partisan issue is not on. It should not be about the PN simply saying that the immigrants should be let in and the government treading lightly. They should together pull at the same end of the same rope so as the immigrants are let in as soon as possible. 

Net News is not without sin either, with an article starting by saying ‘another day and in our country, we have another arrival of immigrants’. It also went on to say how many immigrants entered Malta this year.

Again, nothing intrinsically wrong, but the article headline “more immigrants enter Malta” implies negativity and that the government is at fault for allowing them in. This is corroborated by the comments in the Facebook post of the article.

Partisan media, whilst having its benefits, cannot be treated like any other media. When reading their stories one has to keep in mind the political agenda and such headlines cannot be taken at face value. So although they may not in themselves be political, the underlying lying agenda is.

For this reason, both Net News and ONE News are guilty of turning the highly sensitive and humanitarian topic of immigration into a partisan one. This perpetuates into society, creating an even further divide on an already complicated issue.

So please let us stop making this a partisan issue. It is already bad enough that the fate of these people lies in the hands of politicians. Let us not perpetuate more hate and work so that together as a country we can find the best solution to end these people’s suffering.

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