Wednesday, November 18, 2015

High wall, narrow sea - Migrants once flocked to Malta, host of the EU-African migration summit. Not anymore

Via The Economist: "African migrants encounter as much undisguised hostility here as anywhere in Europe. Neil Falzon, who runs Aditus, a local human rights organisation, says many have been spat upon in the street. As in much of eastern Europe, unfamiliarity breeds contempt. Until the turn of the century, the island had one of the most ethnically homogenous societies in Europe, though its unique identity is actually the product of centuries of racial mingling. (The result is a native population who look a bit like Italians, speak a bit like Arabs and drive on the left like the British.)

"In the early 2000s, when thousands of African asylum seekers began landing here annually, it came as a shock. “A lot of elderly people had never seen a coloured person,” says the leader of the opposition Nationalist Party, who condemns racism (while unwittingly using a politically incorrect term). Maltese xenophobes can fall back on a rational argument: Malta is both the EU’s smallest state and its most densely populated one. Maltese feel they should have to take fewer migrants than larger states.

"Yet strangely, without anyone much noticing, they seem to have got what they want. Malta is barely 200 miles from Libya, still a major transit country for refugees though no longer as important as Turkey. But the flow to Malta has virtually shut down—and no one knows why. Over 140,000 migrants arrived in Italy by sea in the year to November 10th; in Malta, since the end of January, the number is just 20. Meanwhile, the economy has been thriving. Malta has succeeded in becoming something Viktor Orban, the eurosceptic Hungarian prime minister, might dream of: an EU state with enviable growth figures and almost no migrants." Read the article: High wall, narrow sea - Migrants once flocked to Malta, host of the EU-African migration summit. Not anymore. Nov 14th 2015 | From the print edition