Libya: Malta tells EU it needs to react to avoid disaster

'Virus worsening situation', calls for mission, 100 mn in aid

14 April, 15:30

    (ANSAmed) - BRUSSELS, APRIL 14 - Maltese Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo, in a letter to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, called for "urgent action in Libya, including aid to avoid a humanitarian disaster, because the situation has further worsened due to COVID-19 and the ongoing civil war".

    In the letter, Bartolo said there are 650,000 people waiting to leave Libyan coasts.

    A European Commission spokesperson confirmed that the letter had been received and "will be evaluated".

    "The situation in Libya is always present in the thoughts of EU high representative Josep Borrell," the spokesperson said, recalling the launch of Operation IRINI. In the letter, Bartolo called on the European Union to immediately launch a humanitarian mission in Libya in order to slow the illegal migrant flow during the coronavirus pandemic. Bartolo proposed that the European mission could distribute food and medical aid totaling at least 100 million euros. He estimated that "more than 650,000 people are waiting to depart Libyan coasts to reach Europe, while the departure rate is speeding up due to the conflict, illness, and lack of basic necessities". He said delivering aid to Libya, and not countries in sub-Saharan Africa that migrants depart from, is "the most rapid way to alleviate and minimise the difficult circumstances in which they are living".

    In recent days, Malta decided to ban disembarkations on the archipelago, where sea traffic has been blocked since March 10 and the airspace closed a week later.

    Bartolo's letter was sent as four rubber dinghies with 258 people aboard are adrift off the coast of Libya in Malta's SAR zone and the NGO Sea Watch reported that 85 people went missing after a boat overturned. (ANSAmed).

    © Copyright ANSA - All rights reserved

    Business opportunities

    The information system of business
    opportunities abroad

    News from Mediterranean