Advert

Live commentary: Valletta Summit

EU and African leaders are meeting in Malta today in what could be the most important summit to try strike a semblance of a breakthrough in the migration crisis.

The EU is pledging cash in exchange for help to stem the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean. But is it enough to slow down the biggest refugee crisis since World War II? 

Herman Grech is giving constant updates:

11.10pm: We will be back tomorrow on timesofmalta.com to update you with the conclusions of the summit. 

11pm: The last details emerging from the Valletta summit is that EU leaders offered African counterparts aid and better access to Europe in return for help curbing chaotic migration across the Mediterranean and promises to take back those Europe expels.Most leaders have left the Mediterranean Conference Centre with hardly a word said to reporters. The meeting continues tomorrow morning. 

9.50pm: A senior Sudanese official called for more international support to check human trafficking and migration across Sudan’s borders towards Europe. Many Eritreans and Ethiopians who make the perilous crossing to Europe across the Mediterranean enter eastern Sudan before travelling on.

9.43pm: Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says there is greater realisation among African countries that matters regarding migration need to change.  

9.40pm: UK Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to leave early tomorrow and will miss the European Council meeting in the afternoon because of the visit to the UK of the Indian Prime Minister. Mr Cameron had a bilateral meeting with Joseph Muscat this evening. Dr Muscat said they discussed the future of Europe, migration and CHOGM.

9pm: According to TVM, the leaders and delegates are this evening being treated to a traditional Maltese meal, including rabbit, lampuki and gbejniet. The menu in the journalists' centre, on the other hand...

A controversial plan for African migrants to be issued with EU documents that would speed their extradition was dropped

8.50pm: According to AP, in the latest draft of an 'Action Plan' to be made public after the summit, the African leaders would commit "to cooperate with the EU on return and admission, notably on travel documentation." A controversial plan for African migrants to be issued with EU documents that would speed their extradition was dropped. 

8.30pm: Libya is represented at the summit through the deputy prime minister of the EU-recognised Tobruk government, an EU official tells timesofmalta.com. As details of the discussions start emerging, the summit final document should not make any reference to the controversial camps, which led to speculation that EU was planning to create refugee camps across Africa. The official said any such camps would act as an information centre to assist migrants.

7.55pm: Beyond most statistics being discussed over the next two days, there's a tragic story of loss. This was Syrian refugee surgeon Ayman Mostafa on Times of Malta's Times Talk last night talking about his decision to leave his homeland before he lost his family to the sea in the October 2013 Lampedusa tragedy.

7.35pm: Some statistics to show how the Mediterranean has turned into the world's deadliest crossing: The UN says nearly 800,000 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea so far in 2015, while some 3,440 have died or gone missing making the journey. Some 150,000 people from African countries such as Eritrea, Nigeria and Somalia have made the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean from Africa so far this year. But this has been dwarfed by the arrival of some 650,000 people - mostly Syrians - via Turkey and Greece.

7.25pm: As leaders speak of the need to turn words into action, humanitarian organisations are concerned it's the action they dread, such as forced repatriation, which will come into force. Norwegian Refugee Council official Karl Schembri has his say: 

6.30pm: Joseph Muscat starts his speech by citing the poem by Somali-British poet Warsan Shire "no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land". European Council president Donald Tusk says the root causes of migration need to be addressed. Legal migration is to remain open since mobility is a driver of growth in both continents.

5.55pm: After the pomp and ceremonies, and the inauguration of the 'knot' monument outside Castille, the leaders shift to the Mediterranean Conference Centre for a working dinner. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is expected to join them shortly. 

5.30pm: So for anybody who is wondering why there's all this commotion in Malta. This summit was called in April after more than 800 migrants died as they tried to make their way from Libya to Europe. Since then, the refugee movements extended to the east as well prompting the EU to call a number of emergency summits.

Over the next 24 hours, EU and Africa leaders will try to tackle the economic and security problems that cause people to flee... and try to persuade African countries to take back more failed asylum seekers. Once that meeting is over, tomorrow afternoon EU leaders will meet for another emergency summit to discuss the worsening migration crisis in the bloc

5.12pm: Egyptian representative tells reporters there is no consensus over migrant centres in transit countries. This could be one big sticking point during the summit. 

4.47pm: Meanwhile, our sources tell us that all leaders have been driven into the summit in Volvos, except for Angela Merkel who arrived in a BMW and David Cameron, shuttled in a Range Rover. We are told the drivers of delegates are completely ignoring police orders not to park in St Paul Street, much to the frustration of the officer trying to keep some order.  

4.30pm: British Prime Minister David Cameron refuses to give comments to the press. Hungary's right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban might have a lot of questions to answer but he too ignores the journalists. 

4.25pm: As Castille was being decked to welcome leaders, onlookers were diverted by a man selling fake passports for €5 in a stunt to poke fun at Malta's controversial decision to sell passports to non-EU citizens. Activist and writer Antoine Cassar said the Valletta Summit on Migration barred refugees and migrants when they are the subject of summit. 

3.35pm: Meanwhile, more news emerges about yet another migrant tragedy - 14 people have died and a further 27 were rescued by Turkish authorities after their boat sank on its way to the Greek island of Lesbos today. The Italian Military Mission rescued another 100 asylum seekers off Libya this morning. Normally by November, migrant crossings start tailing off... 

3.20pm: One by one, African and European leaders are being driven through the sparkling clean Castille Square for the inauguration ceremony. 

3pm: Hungary, a major target point for migrants seeking to get into the European Union, called the bloc's relocation rules "obsolete" and disputed any idea of letting people return to the first EU country they entered. The so-called Dublin regulation has been a constant point of contention among frontline states, including Malta. 

2.25pm: Plans on the table for the Malta summit include boosting institutions and cooperation, tackling smugglers and providing more development aid for refugees and those at risk of displacement, according to leaked draft plans. 

1.15pm: As leaders fly into Malta, news emerges that Slovenia has started to build a razor-wire fence along its border with Croatia to control the influx of migrants. 

12.30pm: At a debate organised by NGOs, speakers expressed disappointment that civil society had been barred from taking part in councils and summits. Meanwhile, humanitarian organisations around the world are urging leaders not to throw money at the problem, but to seek safe passage for refugees.

12pm: The press centre at St Elmo is filling up with the 900 or so accredited journalists. The many Brussels correspondents seem to be particularly keen on lapping up the Mediterranean sun in the yard.  

10.30am: It's the biggest summit tiny Malta has ever hosted. Valletta is on virtual lockdown, traffic is conspicuously absent amid warnings of mayhem, and helicopters are flying over St Elmo. Meanwhile, the Czech Republic announced it will represent Poland's interests at the Valletta summit. 

 

 

Comments not loading? We recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox with javascript turned on.
Comments powered by Disqus  
Advert
Advert