The bridge leading towards this lighthouse was destroyed by the Italian army during WWII. It is a reminder of how precious and fragile peace is. Not all of us can live in peace right now.
For 18 (!) days, the NGO rescue vessels Sea-Watch 3 and Sea Eye, carrying 49 migrants, are stuck in Maltese shores. Malta and Italy refuse permission for the vessels to enter. The migrants onboard suffer from dehydration and seasickness. There is a high risk of re-traumatization.
Maltese NGO issued a press release urging their government to let the vessels enter the harbor:
“The standard argument these days is that migrants rescued at sea should be returned to Libya, even if we know that they will be imprisoned in horrible conditions, tortured, raped, or sold as slaves. This is a flagrant violation of our freely assumed commitment to ensure that no one is returned to a country where their safety is not guaranteed and where they are at risk of torture or other violations of their rights.”
Last week, I experienced myself how cold and rough the weather can be in this part of Europe. On the Maltese islands, there is a lack of space inside the shelters for migrants. Migrant women were temporarily moved to the Ħal Far centre, a men’s compound, because of overcrowding.
This is 2019. This is Europe. And this is a shame. The arrival of migrants on European shores is not a new phenomena. It is unbelievable that the EU is still not able to find a quick solution.
What to do?
The biggest issues are the lack of solidarity between European countries and the hierarchical structure of the political systems. Of course, Malta lacks the capcity to accomodate all rescued migrants and process their asylum applications. However, some European cities already annouced that they would take them in. For example: Neaple, Palermo, Livorno, Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg, Marburg, and Heidelberg. The initiative SolidarityCities advocates for a bigger involvenment of European cities in the management of migration.
The EU could easily implement a database for all European cities and villages in which they announce if they are willing to take in migrants, when and how many. Such kind of database could be implemented within one week. However, the top-down policy of European countries and the EU system is not working towards such pragmatic solutions yet. Instead, many European politicians prefer to stay silent and look away.
What can you do?
There are plenty of Maltese NGOs which advocate for human rights and deliver direct help to migrants. They need donations, media coverage, and volunteers. Get in touch with them if you want to help. For example: aditus foundation, African Media Association Malta, Christian Life Community (CLC) Malta, Cross Culture International Foundation (CCIF), Integra Foundation, JRS Malta, Malta Emigrants Commission, Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement, Migrant Women Association Malta, People for Change Foundation, Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta (PHROM), SOS Malta, Spark 15, The Critical Institute, and the Women’s Rights Foundation Malta.