23rd Jul 2021

Tensions rise following migrant march on Valletta

  • Another 266 immigrants landed on Malta on Wednesday (Photo: AFM)

More than 300 illegal immigrants currently detained in a detention centre on Malta escaped on Tuesday (26 June) with the aim of marching to the Prime Minister's office in Valletta.

Tuesday's break out was the second time in less than a week that irregular immigrants at Safi detention centre succeeded in pulling down the boundary fences and running out of the detention centre.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Those taking part in the protest were carrying banners saying "we want freedom" and "EU release us from our bondage".

A large number of police officers and soldiers, some also wearing riot gear, had to intervene to control the riots and push the immigrants back to the centre.

During the riots three police officers and two soldiers were injured. Five of the immigrants also suffered slight injuries.

Malta currently detains illegal migrants for up to 18 months, in an attempt to discourage further landings of African immigrants on the island.

Early on Wednesday (28 June), another 266 illegal immigrants landed in the southeast of Malta.

In a statement the Maltese army (AFM) said that the immigrants "refused assistance since they intended to proceed towards Italy, but the boat was encountering mechanical problems."

But eventually army personnel persuaded the occupants of the boat to accept their assistance.

"At the end 266 were embarked and rescued by the AFM, which consisted of 263 men and 3 women from Morocco and Egypt, all in good health," added the statement.

This group is the biggest one to arrive on the Mediterranean island this year.

This also means that more than 600 illegal immigrants have already landed on Malta this year - a large number for an island of just 400,000 inhabitants.

In other EU member states a similar picture is emerging this summer.

Last weekend the Italian Coast Guard also detained nearly 600 illegal immigrants who arrived at or were near the island of Lampedusa.

More than 250 immigrants, including minors, landed in the Spanish Canary Islands on Tuesday.

Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency

Some 14 MEPs have created a group to probe allegations of rights abuse by the EU's border agency Frontex. Its head, Fabrice Leggeri, welcomed its creation and said it "is about time".

Romania denies forcing migrant-boat back to Turkish waters

Romania's ministry of internal affairs wrote to Frontex claiming it did not engage in any illegal pushbacks of people on rubber boats into Turkish territorial waters. The country says it followed EU engagement rules and Greek orders.

LGBTI fears over new Polish member at EU institution

A letter sent to the European Economic and Social Committee by a group of cross-party MEPs fighting for LGBTi rights expresses fears that a recently-appointed Polish member may try to undermine those rights.

News in Brief

  1. Macron changes phone after Pegasus spyware revelations
  2. Italy to impose 'vaccinated-only' entry on indoor entertainment
  3. EU 'will not renegotiate' Irish protocol
  4. Brussels migrants end hunger strike
  5. Elderly EU nationals in UK-status limbo after missed deadline
  6. WHO: 11bn doses needed to reach global vaccination target
  7. EU to share 200m Covid vaccine doses by end of 2021
  8. Spain ends outdoor mask-wearing despite surge


Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Far left and right MEPs less critical of China and Russia
  2. Why is offshore wind the 'Cinderella' of EU climate policy?
  3. Open letter from 30 embassies ahead of Budapest Pride
  4. Orbán counters EU by calling referendum on anti-LGBTI law
  5. Why aren't EU's CSDP missions working?
  6. Romania most keen to join eurozone
  7. Slovenia risks court over EU anti-graft office
  8. Sweden's gang and gun violence sets politicians bickering

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us