|The LifeLine ship that was allowed in Malta yesterday with 230 immigrants.|
The present situation with immigration, both in the Mediterranean Sea and on the US-Mexico border leads me to share a few comments, especially since Malta has been often mentioned over the past few weeks. In fact just yesterday, Malta allowed over 230 refugees to enter the main harbor, with the prospect of having many of these refugees distributed among other countries, members of the European Union.
Malta has always been hospitable to foreigners. Back in 60 AD St Paul and his crew were welcomed after the historic and providential shipwreck on the shores of Malta. Over the centuries, many foreigners settled on our small island and presently, walking through the local streets, all you hear are foreign languages and sometimes I feel I am still in New York City or London or Madrid. Malta is only 112 square miles, and extremely overcrowded already. Over the past 20 years or so, hundreds of refugees from North Africa have landed in Malta and were given political asylum or refugee status, but the problem is that Malta is too small to take in more immigrants. Many of these refugees escaping their countries want to land in Italy or Greece or Spain, from where they can spread, travel and settle all over Europe. They certainly don’t wish to end up in Malta which is so limited with space, and we are already the third most densely populated country in the world. In my hometown of St Julian’s for example, 40% of the population are foreigners. It baffles me when I stand outside our home in the evening, and I see only foreign students and visitors walk by, and all I hear are European languages, not to mention the carers in our Retirement Home who are predominantly Eastern Europeans, from the Philippines and even India and Pakistan. My hope is that the countries from where these immigrants are escaping, can strengthen their countries and governments, and develop more humane cities, in such a way that people do not have to fear living there and escape elsewhere, jeopardizing their lives and thousands of others to find a safe haven. Let us continue to pray as the leaders of the European Union discuss this issue over the next few days.