The number of migrants landing on Malta’s shores has increased by five times in the first months of this year when compared to 2019, Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo said today.
This has happened before the Maltese ports were closed by the government last month in a bid to contain the spread of Coronavirus.
Writing on Facebook, Bartolo said that so far the number of migrants who left Libya illegally and were brought to shore in Malta was 1,135, compared to the 237 migrants who landed last year.
“We have no more place where to take in more migrants,” he said, repeating what the minister and government had already made clear a few weeks back, even to the European Union. Between March 2019 and March 2020, 4,491 migrants arrived in Malta.
The thousands who leave Libya pay thousands to the traffickers who become millionaires via this service, Bartolo said.
He added that the biggest increase in illegal migration was from the central part of the Mediterranean (Malta and Italy), with a 438% jump between the first three months of 2019 and the first three months of 2020.
In the west (Spain) the number of migrants dropped by 48%, and the eastern route (Cyprus and Greece) saw a slight increase of just 5%, Bartolo said.
“We are the smallest country in the EU and we cannot remain on our own to take on the responsibility of so many thousands of people leaving illegally from Libya,” he said.
From 2005, the EU took 1,738 migrants, just 8% of the 21,858 who arrived, he said.