(Malta Today)‘People are drowning at our doorsteps, we should be ashamed’ – Gonzi

From: Semere Asmelash <semereasmelash_at_ymail.com_at_dehai.org>
Date: Tue, 14 Apr 2015 11:27:09 +0000 (UTC)


‘People are drowning at our doorsteps, we should be ashamed’ – Gonzi

Former Prime Minister warns that an EU migration policy will fail unless it has burden sharing of irregular migrants as its 'central pillar'

Tim Diacono 14 April 2015, 12:42pm

The European Union should hang its head in shame at how the Mediterranean Sea has become a cemetery, ex- Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said.

“Malta has become an expert at saving lives at sea, but people are still drowning on our doorsteps,” Gonzi told an EU Civil Liberties Committee meeting. “Frontex is the EU’s life-saving arm of the EU, but we need to start translating words into more action. Frontex needs all the financial and logistical support it needs to carry out its mission successfully.”

He warned that any future EU migration policy must focus on the burden sharing of migrants amongst EU member states.

“As Prime Minister, I had always argued with passion that burden sharing must be the central pillar of an effective EU migration policy,” Gonzi said. “Without it, any new migration policy will not work as the unbalanced pressure on EU countries taking in all the migrants will eventually create social havoc.”

He pointed out that Malta welcomed 18,000 irregular migrants in the past decade, by population ratio equivalent to 2.5 million migrants arriving in the United Kingdom.

He added that any EU migration policy must differentiate between irregular migrants fleeing from torture, extreme poverty, or other humanitarian crises, and those immigrating to seek a better economic future for themselves and their families. He insisted that both cases are genuine, but that the problem of irregular migrants fleeing from a humanitarian crisis is far more demanding and urgent.

“Nearly 90% of Malta’s migrants come from Eritrea and Somalia,” he said. “Practically all the migrants arriving on our shores were victims of war, extreme poverty, or other humanitarian crises that demanded a European, and not just a Maltese, response.”

He also said that the repatriation of failed asylum seekers, who have no valid claim to remain in the EU, is “not as easy as one is led to believe”.

“For some strange and unfathomable reason, even this has been difficult to implement,” Gonzi said. “Returning immigrants to a safe third country requires valid travel documents.”

“The migration issue is politically sensitive and it provides very strong fodder for all the populist approaches that try to feed to the basic instincts of people, instead of to the basic values which the EU professes to embrace,” Gonzi said. “Still, we must adopt an Eu approach based on the EU’s core values.

“The writing is on the wall. We are coping with an unprecedented number of refugees landing on our shores. We face the risk of social unrest and disillusionment in what the EU is supposed to represent.”
Received on Tue Apr 14 2015 - 07:27:19 EDT

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