Updated - Adds reaction by Mario de Marco - Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Foreign Minister George Vella said this morning that  an international anti-human trafficking coalition should be formed, with a mandate to even intervene to attack and disrupt human traffickers.

Speaking in a TVM interview from Luxembourg, where he will attend an urgent meeting of EU foreign and home affairs ministers, Dr Vella said such specific intervention, boots on the ground, fell within the duty of the international community to protect those who were exploited.

He noted that Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had spoken of imposing a naval blockade. But that, he said, was not enough.

The anti-human trafficking coalition, mandated by the UN, should have the right to intervene and attack those people who were profiting from human trafficking, he said.

Doing nothing was not an option, he insisted.

Dr Vella spoke shortly before the Italian patrol vessel Gregoretti was due to arrive in Malta to disembark 24 corpses recovered from the site of yesterday’s tragedy which saw a large fishing boat capsized. It was reportedly carrying between 700 and 900 people, some of them locked in the hold.

The corpses will be taken to Mater Dei Hospital morgue where autopsies will be held.


Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said accounts given by survivors so far were 'haunting' especially that the number of people on the vessel was some 950. The migrants were packed on two decks, with those on the lower deck locked in a hold. 

Dr Muscat said that in his meeting with Italian Prime Minister Renzi they would discuss a political direction on Libya. 

"I believe that the focus should be what should be done in Libya to stop the boats," he said. More boats were preparing to leave Libya, he said.

"Unless something is done about Libya, these scenes will be repeating themselves," he warned.

He said Libya needed to have a unity government and there needed to be an international force mandated by the UN to intervene to secure the borders something which Libya was clearly unable to do on its own. This, he stressed, would not be some kind of invasion, but an operation held in agreement with the Libyan authorities to secure the borders.

Dr Muscat said the EU had changed its attitude towards Libya and migration. The time had come for action on Libya, he said. That country could no longer be a sieve where people entered and left as they wished and criminal gangs had free rein.


PN deputy leader Mario de Marco in a reaction to the comments said on twitter that he agreed.

"I fully concur. Europe has the intelligence capability to target these organisations and stop this exploitation," he said.

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