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Jun 19, 2020

FM underlines importance of preventing more waves of migrants from heading towards Europe

The foreign minister has underlined the importance of preventing more waves of migrants from setting off towards Europe due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

 

The foreign minister has underlined the importance of preventing more waves of migrants from setting off towards Europe due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to MTI after talks in Malta, Péter Szijjártó said that because of its size and geographical location, the island country was one of the European Union’s most vulnerable member states when it comes to illegal migration. Malta is therefore especially worried about the effect of the pandemic on migration, he added.

The minister said the pandemic could easily trigger new migration waves, arguing that the coronavirus could have a serious negative impact on countries that already had weak economies and underdeveloped healthcare systems.

Minister Szijjártó said that while it is crucial to prevent new migration waves from Africa and Asia from reaching Europe, it has to be said that Europe is currently “completely unprotected” from the south. He said migrants from Libya were practically free to make their way to Europe’s ports with the help of “human smuggling rings aided by NGOs”. Illegal migrants must be prevented from boarding vessels in Libya in the first place.

The minister said this requires strengthening Libya’s coast guard, adding that this required financial support from the part of Europe and the establishment of a coordination center in Malta. Unless Europe does this, it will remain unprotected from new migration waves, he said.