Malta is continuing to insist that it will not host any Frontex operation that places it in a worse position than it currently is in, Home Affairs Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici said today.

He was referring to a dispute which erupted last year when it was decided that migrants rescued on the high seas by Frontex would be taken to the host country, rather than the nearest safe harbour.

Dr Mifsud Bonnici was speaking after talks in Malta with the Director-General of Frontex, Ilkka Laitinen. The talks focused on the feared exodus of migrants from Libya because of the upheaval there.

Mr Laitinen refused to be drawn into how big the exodus might be but said his organisation was drawing up plans for seven scenarios of possible migration flows.

Operations, he said, could include strengthening air and maritime surveillance, increased capacity to deal with those seeking protection at ports and airports and an improved repatriation mechanism for those who did not meet the criteria for humanitarian protection.

He insisted, however, that "push backs and diversions are not an option for people seeking protection". (Italy had agreed with Libya to immediately repatriate migrants found at sea, in what became known as the push back policy).

Asked several times about his estimation of the potential size of a migration flow, he said that was a 'billion dollar question."

He pointed that an international organisation (not Frontex) had said there were between 500,000 and 1.5 million third country nationals in Libya. There had also been some reports of some migration flows back to sub-saharan Africa.

Mr Laitinen did not wish to discuss issues relating to burden sharing, saying that was a political issue.

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