In 2013, the Prime Minister of Malta warned that the Mediterranean was becoming ‘a cemetery’. He was speaking shortly after the second Lampedusa shipwreck, in which a migrant vessel capsized and at least 34 people drowned. Several thousand die each year crossing the Mediterranean, with a record 5,000 drowning in 2016 alone. The number of people making the crossing in 2017 has more than halved compared to this time last year, but the death rate has proportionately doubled.
Since the Lampedusa tragedies, and Italy’s decision to launch the Mare Nostrum search and rescue mission, followed by different missions composed of EU and NGO maritime rescue operations, Malta’s position as a frontline state for maritime irregular migration from Africa has changed radically. As a result migration is no longer a crisis discussion but that doesn’t mean the challenges and opportunities brought about by migration are over.
In order to take a closer look at the local impact of the refugee crisis, Debating Europe, in collaboration with The Migrant Network and Leading Talks Malta will be organising a debate as part of the Europe-wide initiative ‘Cities & Refugees‘ . The project aims at fostering a Europe-wide dialogue between citizens, refugees and asylum seekers, NGOs, politicians, and European leaders. The emphasis will be on connecting local, everyday life at the city level to decisions made in Brussels and national capitals.
With representatives from the Ministry for European Affairs and Equality, which is currently drafting Malta’s first Integration Policy, we intend making integration and the improvement of policy for migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Malta the centre point of the debate in Malta.