Malta has been carrying the burden of illegal immigrants for more than two years. After some time the problem became unacceptable. Now it has reached the stage when it has become uncontrollable.
Let us be straight from the outset. When immigrants land on our shores, or are rescued by our forces, they should be given all medical care and treatment needed, and also any necessary item required. They should then be housed properly and immediate steps taken to leave our island. Our commitments and responsibilities should stop there.
The government has, all along, sought all sorts of means to tackle the problem. With no success, for it has neither the financial nor the material means. It has sought political solutions. Many countries, especially Italy, lent effective cars. But things stopped there and promises, suggested solutions and some theoretic decisions were never given effect to. Nothing has been done, particularly from the European Union, which seems to be bogged and blocked by bureaucratic concepts and procedures. I wonder whether the bureaucrats in Brussels wait months to receive their monthly remuneration.
Words, promising help, have not been missing; but all along we have been taken for a ride and misled.
In the meantime, our Armed Forces and the police have shown not only extreme performance of duties, but also restraint when difficulties arose. We should all show our appreciation and thanks to them, including the Commissioner of Police who, in one instance, not only exceeded performing his duties, but also risked his life!
There are aspects which the media do not refer to. If a person, male or female from, say, Egypt, Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, South Africa, wishes to come here to marry his or her counterpart, months are taken to investigate his case and decide whether to issue a visa.
An illegal immigrant lands here, is taken care of immediately and, in most cases, remains here indefinitely. There are much more than 2,000 of them among us, representing 0.5 per cent of the population; and another 500 or so roaming about freely. No other similar percentage is applicable anywhere in Europe.
Many employers are making illegal money. They employ some of these immigrants, who do more than their duties not to lose the opportunity of gaining some money. But, in most cases, they are paid peanuts, if at all. They are being exploited to the utmost. I wonder how many employers have been charged and arraigned in court.
Some countries have shown consideration towards us, like Egypt, which has accepted to take back its nationals.
What is the solution? Our government should insist, with all its political means, with the European Union, to adopt immediately the following proposal: "If the European Union was genuine, true and honest in all its promises of help to us over so very many months, it should find immediately a country in Africa, which allows the Union to send all our immigrants to reside in it, in a specified place, for some time, paying that country appropriate compensation (all African countries are crying out for financial help), and undertaking that the immigrants will be the entire responsibility of the Union itself, until they are accommodated somewhere else."
We can then perhaps see the beginning of the end of our problems.
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