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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More