The Malta Independent 18 May 2021, Tuesday

‘Expression of interest aimed towards quarantine, medical assistance measures’ – Camilleri

Karl Azzopardi Thursday, 30 July 2020, 18:38 Last update: about 9 months ago

The expression of interest regarding private boats to house migrants offshore is aimed at creating a space to quarantine migrants or provide a medical assistance were needed, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri told this newsroom. 

Today, the government said that it will be releasing a call for expressions of interest in the provision of vessels with the aim of them being used to keep migrants under quarantine on when they are rescued.

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The Malta Independent asked Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri if this decision means that the government will be leaving possibly infected migrants to congregate in a small space. Additionally, he was asked how this motion is justifiable considering that Malta’s ports are still open.

“The expression of interest that is coming out today is there so that there is a place for any persons who need to be quarantined and receive medical help,” he said.

Camilleri pointed out that when it comes to the topic of immigration the government has made decisions that protect both immigrants’ and Malta's public health. He added that the government has focused on ensuring security within the Mediterranean region and this work has served to reduce criminality especially among people in Libya through agreements with Libya itself. “However there are still migrants who are coming into our SAR zone and need saving.”

He assured that medical assistance will be provided to any migrants that will be help on these ships in the same way it was during the peak of COVID-19 in Malta.

“As a ministry we have an excellent track record in this regard as not only did we solve the problem there was in Ħal Far open centre but we were also the first country to solve the problem that every country had in their migration open centres,” he said. “With the help of Redcross we were able to save and heal everyone and we will be doing the same thanks to their help and through the use of these ships.”

Camilleri went on to say that the ships can provide a place of segregation so that different groups to not mix with each other – “the worst thing we can do is for an infected group to congregate with others when the quarantine period has not been carried out.”

This newsroom asked if he fears that infected person will still end up mixing with each other on the ship itself.

He said that the expression of interest declares that there needs to be an isolation space on the vessel so that infected individuals do not congregate with others.

“We are not ready to carry out this exercise if we have different groups of people together. There needs to be segregation and measures that are based on consultation with health authorities.”

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