The Maltese Government has shut the nation’s borders against a migrant ship berthed just outside its territorial waters, saying that the vessel and its passengers would remain on anchor until the European Union makes alternative arrangements for the peoples’ accommodation.
It revealed that the migrants had been rescued during the government efforts to intercept possible asylum seekers and that the persons were transferred into a tourist cruise ship from which it was expected that transfer would be made, by the EU, to some other receptive country.
The Maltese Prime Minister, Robert Abela, explained that the nation was in the process of curbing rising incidence of the deadly coronavirus pandemic among its people and that the decision to close all borders was with aim to protect residents from the possibility of imported infection cases.
Abela, while speaking to newsmen on Friday, confirmed that Malta would not back down on the decision to shut its borders, saying that the nation would remain closed to all air, land, and water traffic.
He said that the nation had contributed more than its quota in accepting asylum seekers prior to the coronavirus outbreak and that the time had come for other EU ally countries to take up the baton from where Malta had stopped.
According to Abela, the government’s commitment was to ensuring safety of the lives and properties of its people while the union was to cater to the stranded migrants berthed outside the countries waters.
“This is not Malta’s problem, although we are doing more than is expected of us. Other EU member states must shoulder the burden too. Malta and Italy cannot be left alone”, he said.
“We closed our ports and airport to cruise passengers and tourists and it does not make sense to then let migrants in, so we will be firm in our commitment not to open our ports. It is our duty to protect the national interest and balance that with our obligations”.