Għal darba oħra ……………… Lampedusa

smell the coffee

Żewġ traġedji f’ġimgħa. Fit-tieni waħda kienu protagonisti l-Forzi Armati ta’ Malta li salvaw mal-150 persuna mill-għarqa. Veru li għamlu dmirhom. Imma li jirnexxilek tagħmel dmirek f’ċirkustanzi bħal dawn hu ta’ sodisfazzjon mhux żgħir.

Din id-darba kien pożittiv ukoll l-atteġġjament tal-Prim Ministru Joseph Muscat. Hu ta’ sodisfazzjoni li bidel l-attitudni li kien ħa iktar kmieni din is-sena. Nittama li l-ħsara li laħqet saret tibda tissewwa. Dan jista’ jseħħ, iżda jieħu ż-żmien. Dejjem jekk il-bdil ta’ attitudni mhiex biss u sempliċiment bdil ta’ tattika.

Kif kien xieraq il-prijorita’ kienet li jsalvaw in-nies. Imma ġustament ġie emfasizzat li l-Unjoni Ewropeja teħtieġ li tiċċaqlaq.

Sal-lum id-dħul tal-immigranti m’hiex responsabbilta’ tal-Unjoni Ewropeja iżda tal-Istati membri individwali. Dan m’għandux jibqa’ hekk. Għax  l-istati fuq il-fruntiera tan-nofsinnhar tal-Ewropa (Malta, l-Italja, Spanja, l-Greċja u Ċipru) qed jerfgħu piż kbir li lkoll, kif nafu, ma jifilħux għalih.

Ir-responsabbilta’ għall-immigranti għandha tintrefa’ mill-Unjoni Ewropeja kollha, f’isem u għan-nom tal-istati membri kollha. Għax dak li jiġri mill-fruntiera l-ġewwa hu responsabbilta’ ta’ kulħadd, inkluż tagħna l-Maltin. Jiġifieri hu meħtieg li r-responsabbilta’ li tatna l-ġografija jgħinuna nerfgħuha.( Il-fruntiera mhiex importanti biss biex jinġabar dak dovut għad-dwana.)

Biex dan iseħħ hemm bżonn li jinbidlu r-regolamenti tal-Unjoni Ewropea magħrufin bħala Dublin II (magħrufa ukoll bħala l-Konvenzjoni ta’ Dublin). It-tibdil meħtieġ jagħmilha possibli li immigranti jiċċaqalqu mill-pajjiż fejn jaslu għal pajjiż ieħor fejn tkun tista’ tiġi ipproċessata t-talba tagħhom għal status ta’ refuġjat.

Alternattiva Demokratika ilha snin li ikkonvinċiet lill-partiti l-Ħodor Ewropej li din hi t-triq il-quddiem: triq li permezz tagħha r-responsabbilta’ li illum qed terfa’ Malta u l-istati l-oħra fuq il-fruntiera tan-nofsinnhar tal-Ewropa tibda  tintrefa’ minn kulhadd flimkien.

Imma mhux kulħadd jaqbel ma dan. Il-Partiti l-oħra fl-Ewropa s’issa ma qablux ma dan.

Il-Ġermanja, per eżempju hu wieħed minn 24 pajjiż fl-Unjoni Ewropeja li ma jridx jibdel l-affarijiet. Jippreferi  li d-deċiżjonijiet dwar kemm il-pajjiż jieħu refuġjati joħodhom hu. Fil-fatt fil-Ġermanja matul is-sena li qegħdin fiha ser ikunu ġew aċċettati 100,000 refuġjat.  Punt interessanti fl-aħbarijiet fi tmiem il-ġimgħa kien dak li intqal minn Katrin Göring-Eckardt co-leader ġdida tal-Ħodor Ġermaniżi li indikat li biex  id-diskussjonijiet dwar il-formazzjoni ta’ Gvern ġdid Ġermaniż bejn id-Demokristjani u l-Ħodor jipproċedu huwa essenzjali (fost ħafna affarijiet oħra) li jkun hemm tibdil fil-posizzjoni dwar l-immigrazzjoni attwalment f’idejn il-Ministru tal-Intern Hans  Peter Friedrich, allejat lemini ta’ Angela Merkel mis-CSU tal-Bavaria. (ara New York Times  tal-11 t’Ottubru 2013 : Sinking of Migrant Boat off Italy complicates politics in Germany).

Fid-dawl ta’ dan hu ċar li l-uġiegħ ta’ ras ta’ Joseph Muscat qabel ma jikkonvinċi lill-istituzzjonijiet Ewopej hi biex jikkonvinċi lil sħabu fil-partiti Soċjalisti Ewropej li minn fosthom hemm 10 Prim Ministri.  Jekk dawn jagħtuh l-appoġġ ikun iktar faċli li naslu bħala pajjiż. Imma ħlief Enrico Letta, Prim Ministru tal-Italja, s’issa l-ebda kap ta’ Gvern fl-Unjoni Ewropeja għadu ma esprima ruħu.

Ħafna drabi jsir l-iżball li ninsisitu b’qawwa kbira dwar x’għandha tagħmel l-Ewropa mingħajr ma nirrealizzaw li l-Ewropa hi aħna ukoll, kif ukoll dawk ta’ madwarna.

Alternattiva Demokratika diġa’ ħadet posizzjoni ċara dwar dan kollu. Għax aħna ukoll parti mill-Ewropa għamilna l-parti tagħna u wittejna t-triq. Wrejna li hu possibli li fuq livell ta’ Unjoni Ewropeja jkun hemm appoġġ biex ir-responsabbilta’ għall-immigranti li illum qed jintrefa minn Malta waħedha tibda jintrefa minn kulħadd. Il-Ħodor Ewropej bdew. Il-Ħodor Ewropej tawna l-appoġġ billi qablu ma ħtieġa ta’ riforma tal-Konvenzjoni ta’ Dublin bħala pass essenzjali biex ir-responsabbilta’ għall-immigranti nerfgħuha flimkien. Dan hu l-uniku mod li bih nistgħu naslu. B’solidarjeta’ ta’ vera.

kif ippubblikat fuq iNews it-Tnejn 14 t’Ottubru 2013

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The solidarity challenge

New Deal for Somalia

The boats and dinghies departing from the Libyan coast are a stiff challenge to the solidarity which Malta has traditionally  shown towards all those who required it.

The departures from the Libyan coast are controlled by criminal gangs who are cashing in on the suffering of men, women and children fleeing  from their countries for a multitude of reasons, seeking a better quality of life and fleeing persecution.

The boats and dinghies represent their future hopes. For some it has meant death. Battered by the rough seas some make it to their destination, the Italian mainland. Others end up on our shores.

The number of arrivals is on the rise. There is a limit to what this country can take. But the limit is a physical one as the duty to put solidarity in practice has no limits.

Malta always offered practical solidarity to those in distress as we have always felt that it is our duty to uphold the dignity of all human beings irrespective of their country of origin or race. Offering hospitality is not and should never be conditional on whether others help us in shouldering our responsibilities. We do it as a nation because it is the right thing to do.

There is so much more that Malta could do if we are assisted by our EU partners. So far there has been substantial assistance in monetary terms. This has been utilised to improve Malta’s rescue capabilities as well as in providing decent places where immigrants are housed. But this is certainly not enough.

There has been talk of looking towards the South.  Last Monday Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has also been involved in talks with the Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta as the challenge we face is not just ours, it is a regional one.

The involvement of Libya is not without its problems. Libya, as also emphasisied by Prime Minister Letta on Monday, is not yet a signatory of the Geneva Convention  on the status of refugees. Human Rights, in addition, are not an area with which the Libyan state is familiar yet. Having secure Libyan borders just shifts the problem from the Mediterranean to Libyan soil.

The real solution lies much further south then Libya. It lies in the countries of origin of the boat people whom Malta and Italy have saved from the perils of the sea. Some are Somali, others are from Ethiopia, Eritreia or other countries.

65% of the 1890  boat people arriving in Malta in 2012 were Somali.

The European Union is in fact already acting in this direction. In collaboration with the government of Somalia the EU will shortly be convening an international conference to endorse a New Deal with Somalia that aims to develop a set of key priorities and support the reconstruction of Somalia over the next three years. It is the way that the international community makes good on its promises of support to the Somali people. The healing of the scars resulting from a long civil war takes considerable time.

Through the New Deal for Somalia the EU is assisting the reconstruction of Somalia, an essential prerequisite in creating the infrastructure which is necessary to ensure that all Somali citizens are protected and can partake of an adequate quality of life in their own country. Once the reconstruction of Somalia with EU assistance is in place there will be no further reason for large numbers of Somalis to flee their own country. Some will undoubtedly want to consider returning to take part in the transformation of Somalia, getting it ready to participate as an equal partner in the international family of nations.

Helping Somalia to help herself. This is EU solidarity at its best.

The EU has already helped in training Somali soldiers. It has also invested heavily in maritime security off the Somali coast contributing to a substantial reduction of piracy which has been of international concern for years.

The next steps will necessitate Somalia doing a deal with its global partners to clear its huge financial arrears and put in place international aid programmes to help establish the Somali government’s legitimacy.

The EU has been looking at long term solutions. Unfortunately it did not give sufficient attention to the short term problems which primarily Malta and Italy have been facing. The human suffering generated needs to be addressed immediately.

Malta and Italy should not be left on their own to manage  the impacts which have been generated by migration.  A common strategy to manage the extreme pressures caused by the seasonal increase in the arrival of asylum seekers in Southern Europe is essential  until such time that the long term measures which the EU has initiated in Somalia have the desired effect.

This is the solidarity challenge which the EU is facing. And the EU is not them. It is us as well.

Published in The Times of Malta, 20 July 2013 

Looking towards the South

map. central mediterranean

The Prime Minister’s declaration that he is looking towards the South searching for a solution to the immigration problem is a very valid proposition. Emphasising that Libya should be looked at as being part of the solution is welcome news.

Understandably Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has not put his cards on the table yet, except to announce that he will be meeting with Prime Minister Enrico Letta of Italy on Monday.

Whilst looking forward to a tri-partite solution may I point out that Libya’s signing of the Geneva Convention of 1951 on the status of refugees would be a positive step forward.