The Malta Independent 15 April 2024, Monday
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‘Only stability offers hope for a better future,’ Abela says after migrant deaths in Malta's waters

Albert Galea Sunday, 25 February 2024, 12:16 Last update: about 3 months ago

It is only stability that can offer hopes for a better future and prevent people from being so desperate that they put their and their families lives into the hands of criminal rings of human traffickers, Prime Minister Robert Abela said as he addressed the death of five migrants in Maltese waters.

Speaking on Sunday in a political activity in Siggiewi, Abela spoke of his sadness at Friday’s events, where five migrants died after the boat they were on capsized midway through a rescue mission by the Armed Forces of Malta in the country’s territorial waters.

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“I want to share my sadness at this loss of life, but also give recognition and gratitude to the AFM’s work, who in the same rescue operation saved 29 people,” Abela said.

He said that the topic of immigration is an extremely complex one but is a reality for Malta as a frontline country.

He said that first and foremost, the fight against human traffickers must continue: “These are organised circles of human traffickers who exploit people’s vulnerability and weakness, whose business model is to make money off people’s suffering, and they are circles which we need to keep fighting because they are leading to the loss of many lives.”

Abela continued that the reality is that these are wide-reaching circles of crime with connections to drug and oil smuggling, meaning that it is a challenge which Malta cannot beat alone.

The Prime Minister continued that there is also the need for stability in the world, especially in the Mediterranean.

“It is instability which causes desperation in so many people: don’t you need to be desperate to put your and your families lives into the hands of human traffickers, and let them put you in a small boat and send you to cross 200 nautical miles between Libya and Malta?  Their only hope for a future is to put their lives in the hands of organised criminality,” he said.

“This is why we speak about the importance of peace: peace brings stability… only stability offers a hope for a better future,” he said, adding that this was why Malta had proposed the appointment of a European Commissioner specifically dedicated to the Mediterranean region in the next legislature.

Abela said that he had put forward a strong message in European fora: to condemn invasions, impose sanctions to send a message that illegal invasions are unacceptable, but at the same time to use language which encourages peace rather than war.

“We do not believe in inflammatory messages which imply that the solution for war is a bigger war than there already is,” Abela said.

“To win war you need to embrace peace. I question sometimes how some seem to take more satisfaction speaking about missiles rather than peace,” he said, not specifying who he was referring to.

“To be clear: For us, neutrality is a dear value in the Constitution, one which those before us kept dear and which we will keep dear too.  The solution for war is to think about peace,” he said.

Abela said that this is why Malta had provided humanitarian aid in the form of, for example, electricity generators, and why it had also offered to take in people affected by the war for medical treatment.

“How can we do nothing before the massacre of so many innocent people in Gaza? Innocent women and children – over 28,000 innocent people who have lost their lives,” he said.

He continued that this was why the government had accepted to offer medical aid to three-year-old Selah Hajras, who suffered severe leg injuries when her house in a city in Southern Gaza was hit by an Israeli airstrike in mid-November, who arrived in Malta last week.

The Prime Minister said that he had extended the country’s offer to care for more Palestinian children in Malta.

Abela then spoke of a visit he conducted at manufacturing company Trelleborg, and spoke of several personal experiences of employees at the company.

“The economy isn’t just numbers: economy and stability is the experience of these people; Experiences which show how much we need to encourage initiative for training and upskilling,” he said.

He took a swipe at the PN saying that when it was in government it used to “place bets on when this sector would die,” adding that the pl had instead created an environment for it to thrive.

Abela said that the closure of trade schools in the past was a mistake which will be reversed by this government through the creation of a trades institute at MCAST.

He said that the government has to have a “can do” attitude, and it is this attitude which has seen the government able to bring a veterinarian course to Malta for the first time, which will allow students to become veterinarians without having to study to travel abroad.

This is the fruit of discussions between MCAST and a foreign university, Abela said.

Finally, he sent a message to a demographic assumed to be those unsure of whether they will vote in the upcoming June MEP elections: “Send us your message, we are here to listen to you and to offer solutions.”

“Our vision is one of opportunities and not discouragement.  Help, not austerity. Peace, not wars. Politics for the people and not people for politicians.  That’s how we make better communities and offer a better future for our country.”

Labour Party MEP candidate Thomas Bajada also addressed the political activity.

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