Boat Migrants Landed on European Soil After Threatening to Blow Up Holding Ship

ANNE CHAON/AFP via Getty Images

Nearly 500 illegal immigrants held on tourist boats have been allowed to disembark in Malta after migrants stole knives and threatened to blow up a vessel.

A total of 425 migrants on four boats went ashore on Saturday night after they were kept at sea for a month.

Malta bowed to pressure after asylum seekers effectively hijacked the Europa II vessel by seizing knives from the boat’s galley and threatening to blow up the gas cylinder unless they were allowed to disembark in an EU nation.

Speaking Saturday, Prime Minister Robert Abela said: “Up until Saturday morning, we had no intention of allowing the vessels to dock, but the situation escalated.

“The security forces told us that some migrants had barged into the kitchen and stole knives. They were threatening the crew and saying they would set gas cylinders on fire.”

“We took a difficult decision. The easiest thing to do would have been to send the army on board, take over and resolve the situation. But I did not want to risk people’s lives.”

Abela continued with a call for the European Union (EU) to show solidarity and redistribute the asylum seekers throughout the bloc, explaining: “Some countries made pledges but said they would only follow through if we opened our ports.

“The EU knew that there were 400 migrants on board the vessel and told us we were not doing the right thing, but it did nothing to help us. Once again, we had to carry the burden alone.”

Many of the newly arrived immigrants are economic migrants and do not qualify for asylum and will be returned to their homelands, the prime minister added, stressing that redistributing infinite numbers of asylum seekers across Europe is not the solution to illegal immigration.

Malta Today admitted that crew members feared for their lives during what the liberal local media outlet termed a “protest” by the illegal immigrants Saturday night.

A source told the news outlet: “Except for the captain’s cabin, the migrants are threatening to commandeer the ship.

“They obviously outnumber the crew and security… they threatened to burn the boat down since they have access to the kitchen as well as any utensils inside. If any trouble ensues aboard the ship, the captain will probably steer the boat to shore.

“They say they have been on good terms with the migrants on board – that they have been feeding them regularly and respecting Ramadan dietary requirements, also entertaining them. But it is obvious the migrants have had enough, suffering constant seasickness and unable to see an end to this detention.”

Mass migration-backing NGOs and the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights had blasted the Maltese government previously for refusing to open the country’s harbours to migrant boats. Abela argued that it did “not make sense” to roll out the red carpet for illegal immigrants while the borders were still sealed to cruise passengers and other tourists amidst coronavirus restrictions.

Noting that the island nation’s migrant reception centres were full due to a major uptick in arrivals this year, the Maltese leader added that “hundreds of thousands” of people in Libya currently wish to make the journey to Europe.


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