The Times of Malta reported on Friday that Malta has for the second consecutive year informed Frontex that it will not host or participate in joint sea patrols in the Central Mediterranean, saying that there is no need for the patrols given the drastic reduction in the number of boat people attributable to Italy’s push-back practice with Libya which has been in effect since 2009. Only 47 migrants reached Malta in 2010 compared with 2,775 in 2008. Frontex’s Central Mediterranean joint operation, referred to as Operation Nautilus (renamed Operation Chronos last year), has in past years operated during the summer sailing months when sea conditions are most favourable for small boats.
Last year Malta initially said that it would not host the joint operation due to the then recently approved guidelines governing Frontex enforcement operations at sea which required that intercepted migrants be taken to the country hosting the mission under certain circumstances. A Maltese government spokesperson later said that the decision not to host the operation was not due to the new guidelines, but was due to Malta’s view that there was no longer a need for the operation because of the success of the Italy-Libya migration agreement. “The reason why we decided not to take part in [the 2010] 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.”
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See my previous posts:
Italy and Malta question need for Frontex sea patrols (9 July 2010)