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Following various reports on Italian media about another number of illegal immigrants who earlier on Tuesday entered the Italian island of Lampedusa accompanied by a Guardia di Finanza (G. di F.) patrol vessel, the Armed Forces of Malta stated that all migrants claimed Eritrean nationality, were not in distress and were in good health. In turn, the Italian journalist, Rolla Scolari reporting from Malta on the hot issue of illegal immigration, writes in the Italian newspaper Il Giornale about accidents and instances in the last few years which, according to her, prove the dark side of Malta.

The AFM stated that on Monday, at 18:40CEST, a fishing vessel notified the AFM’s Rescue and Co-ordination Centre (RCC Malta) that it had sighted a white rubber-dinghy, with about 60 persons onboard, in a position southwest of Malta. The AFM Maritime Squadron’s Protector-class patrol boat P51, which was on a FRONTEX patrol, was immediately instructed to proceed to the reported location to investigate further. It was confirmed that the approximately 60 persons reported by the fishing vessel included five females amongst them. The dinghy was steadfastly heading towards Lampedusa and showed no intention of coming to Malta. The AFM personnel provided humanitarian aid, as per its international obligations by giving basic supplies and lifejackets to all onboard.  P51 continued to escort the migrants’ dinghy throughout its jouney to Lampedusa, thus ensuring the safety of those on board.

Later, in the early hours of this morning, at 03:50CEST RCC Malta notified its Italian counterpart (MRCC) Rome about the illegal migrants’ dinghy, which was still proceeding towards Lampedusa. Subsequently, at 06:35CEST whilst P51 was in a position some 14 nautical miles off Lampedusa, a G. di F. vessel arrived on the scene and continued escorting the illegal migrants’ craft to shore.

Favourite News reports in more detail.

Meanwhile, Italian journalist Rolla Scolari, writing yet another article about Malta in the Italian newspaper Il Giornale in the space of a few days, accuses Malta of having a dark side to its normal tourist friendliness, and of being an island of social tension, racism and intimidation. Malta has more political and social problems than many of Europe’s largest cities, according to the article.

“Besides immigration there is the problem of racist feelings towards illegal immigrants”, says Mark Anthony Falzon, a Maltese anthropologist. Which is why, Ms Scolari adds, that the perishing of 73 immigrants is no longer news and that far-right political parties in Malta are getting stronger, referring to the far-right movement of Norman Lowell in the process.

The Italian journalist says that tension is so strong on the island that journalist Herman Grech had to be provided with police protection after he had taken a position against racism. And other journalists have also been victims of attacks.

The article in the Italian newspaper claims that Malta has more political and social problems than many of Europe’s largest cities and that Malta is not immune to scandals. She mentions the recent case of a young woman who was allegedly verbally abused and ill treated by the police after she took her dog for a walk on a beach where dogs are prohibited.

Other ‘irritating’ facts mentioned by the Italian journalist are the two separate cases of excessive force used by the police against illegal immigrants, the corruption in Maltese football, the fact that Malta is practically the only country in the world (besides the Philippines) not to have any divorce legislation and the recent comment made by Foreign Minister Tonio Borg that there is no link between Malta and the Lockerbie plane bombing.

In another article published on Monday the same journalist had described Malta as “the most racist country in Europe”.

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