News / Europe

    Malta Forced to Cancel Repatriation of African Refugees

    Malta Forced To Cancel Repatriation of African Refugeesi
    X
    July 10, 2013 9:11 PM
    Malta has been forced to cancel the forced return of dozens of Somali migrants to Libya, after an emergency ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. The EU has criticized the attempted repatriation, but Malta has accused its European partners of a lack of solidarity. The disagreement comes after the Pope visited an Italian island earlier this week that has received thousands of migrants. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Henry Ridgwell
    Malta has been forced to cancel the forced return of dozens of Somali migrants to Libya, after an emergency ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. The EU has criticized the attempted repatriation, but Malta has accused its European partners of a lack of solidarity. It comes after the Pope visited an Italian island earlier this week that's received thousands of migrants.

    Tired, hungry and dehydrated, 68 migrants who'd set sail from Libya were rescued by Maltese patrol boats Wednesday 50 kilometers off the coastline, after their vessel lost power.   It's the second migrant boat to arrive in as many days.

    Maltese authorities had intended to send two planes back to Libya carrying 45 Somali migrants who had arrived Tuesday.  But the European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling banning the repatriations.

    The migrants must be given the chance to apply for asylum, says Katrine Camilleri, a Maltese lawyer from the Jesuit Refugee Service.

    "They were well within Maltese jurisdiction, so all our national obligations and also our obligations in terms of European law and the European Convention on Human Rights clearly apply. Libya is unable to guarantee protection from cruel and degrading treatment or punishment to migrants in its territory," said Camilleri.

    Authorities say more than 400 migrants have arrived on the island in the past week, including babies, pregnant women and three men with gunshot wounds. Most are Eritrean or Somali.

    The European Court of Human Rights declared illegal in 2009 the practice of so-called 'push back' - where migrants are forced to return where they came from.

    Malta's prime minister told reporters that the repatriations would send a 'message that we are not pushovers'.

    "Given the situation in Libya, we believe that forced returns or push backs are not an option," said Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for the U.N. High Commission for Refugees.

    Malta has accused the European Union of a lack of solidarity in failing to help with the refugee influx.

    The United Nations says around 8,400 refugees have landed in Italy and Malta so far this year - double the number in the same period last year.
     
    "It is really important to recognize the important work that the Italian Coast Guard and the Maltese armed forces are doing in preventing more tragedies in the Mediterranean," said Mehecic.  "And just for comparison, last year we had about 500 deaths registered at sea. This year in the first six months, only 40, and it's all thanks to the good coordination effort of rescue at sea," he said.

    On Monday a flotilla of fishing boats welcomed Pope Francis to the Italian island of Lampedusa, where tens of thousands of migrants have landed in recent years.

    Pope Francis gave a mass to commemorate the thousands of migrants who have died on the journey.

    "I thought I needed to come here today to pray," he said. "To carry out a gesture of closeness and to re-awaken our consciousness, so what has happened never happens again, never again please."

    The summer months traditionally see a surge in migrant arrivals fleeing war and poverty at home. The vessels are often hugely overcrowded and in poor condition. Many do not reach their destination.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora