Malta previously said that it would not host Operation Chronos, Frontex’s annual central Mediterranean enforcement operation, formerly known as Nautilus, due to the recently approved guidelines governing Frontex enforcement operations at sea which require that intercepted migrants be taken to the country hosting the mission under certain circumstances.
But the Times of Malta is reporting that a Maltese government spokesperson said that the decision not to host Frontex is not because of the new guidelines, but is due to Malta’s view that there is no longer a need for Operation Chronos because of the success of the Italy-Libya migration agreement. “The reason why we decided not to take part in this year’s mission is that we feel there is no need for this year’s EU patrol. We have noticed that, following the introduction of joint patrols by Libya and Italy last year, the number of illegal immigrants reaching Malta has dropped significantly. We feel that, as long as this operation remains in place, there is no real need for another anti-migration mission on behalf of the EU.”
The Times article reports that 84 boats carrying 2,775 migrants arrived in 2008 and that this number was reduced in 2009 to 17 boats carrying 1,475, with the majority of arrivals occurring in the first half of 2009 before the Italian push-back policy was implemented.
Commissioner Cecilia Malmström travels to Rome and Malta this week for meetings with officials on asylum and migration issues.
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