Social justice activists have called on Malta to review its current migration system as part of a broader European Union-wide plan to overhaul the way in which it handles asylum requests.

In a statement on Saturday, development aid and education NGO Kopin noted that more than 20,000 people have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean over the past seven years.

On October 3, 2013, 386 men, women and children drowned following a shipwreck close to Lampedusa, in one of the biggest tragedies in contemporary Mediterranean history.

Kopin called on the EU to officially recognise October 3 as an official day to commemorate and reflect on the tragic and massive loss of life at sea.

“We have a clear and present responsibility not to let humanity drown; solidarity and compassion can be above water only if we are aware and decide to take action,” the NGO said.

“Being human demands an obligation not to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others, and taking responsibility for our individual and collective actions.”

The EU unveiled its new migration pact last month. The pact places a greater emphasis on facilitating the repatriation of failed asylum seekers and on ensuring asylum applications are quickly screened and processed. 

Malta has described the plan as a good basis on which to begin “reasonable discussion” about migration reform within the EU.

In its statement, Kopin argued that the EU should base its new pact on respect for fundamental human rights, rather than border closures or deportations.

Malta’s migration system needed to be reviewed too, it said, to emphasise dialogue about the real and perceived challenges local communities are facing while shutting out hate speech, racism and extremist views.

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