Friday

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.

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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.

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