The lack of surveillance in the Mediterranean is making it easier for criminal networks to smuggle people across the sea to Europe, Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela has said. 

Minister Abela noted that with the scaling down of the EU’s Operation Sofia, smugglers and traffickers had grown more daring.

On Friday, Italian media outlet Corriere della Sera published aerial footage showing purported smugglers tow an empty boat out to seas outside Lampedusa before cramming the boat with 81 migrants and leaving them there to float and continue the crossing alone.

The smuggler vessel was subsequently caught and seven people aboard apprehended, the Italian news outlet said.

Dr Abela expressed concern about the lack of coordination between EU member states when it came to migration issues, saying solutions remained ad-hoc ones.

“It is only through solidarity, a concerted effort and responsibility sharing by all stakeholders that the issue  can be effectively addressed,” he said.

The minister was speaking at a closing address for a joint training programme organised by the International Institute for Justice and The Rule of Law (IIJ) and the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies (MEDAC).

30 professionals, among them five Maltese, completed the programme.

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