Malta prepared for arrival of more migrants

Malta prepared for arrival of more migrants

Malta prepared for arrival of more migrants

Malta must prepare itself for the arrival of a greater number of asylum seekers and migrants crossing the Mediterranean because Italy’s Mare Nostrum operation has been brought to an end, said a UN human rights expert.

Mare Nostrum was Italy’s initiative to prevent migrants dying at sea, but the fact the country has discontinued it means Malta can expect a rising number of migrants and asylum seekers landing on its shores, with the number set to peak between May and July next year.

Francois Crepeau said the island nation would need to develop programmes that would give it the capacity to handle and process the increase in migrant numbers, and have a long term target of offering immediate assistance, integration programmes and legal safeguards for these people.

He noted that there were several initiatives currently being drawn up to improve how the asylum seekers and migrants were handled, but he stressed that if the country did not do more to prepare for such a large influx, it would wind up in a state of panic and chaos.

Crepeau spent five days in the Mediterranean island, during which he urged the government to bring an end to its policy of detaining migrants and asylum seekers upon arrival. He insisted that people had the right to remain free and that detention should only be used as a last resort.

He went on to explain that mandatory detention caused fear and distrust between asylum seekers, migrants and the people of Malta. He added that the current climate of fear defined the policies and programmes that were in place at present.

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