LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – A record of 740kg of cocaine with a street value of around 100 million was intercepted by the Maltese customs at the Malta Freeport in a container en-route from Ecuador to Slovenia.
The container which was carrying 1,080 boxes of bananas, was screened following some discrepancies noted by the customs officials. The cargo was iinspected physically, and officials found 740 packets of white powder hidden in 37 boxes. Further investigations confirmed that the packets were full of high-purity cocaine. The packets of 1kg each, were hidden within the boxes of bananas.
The police in Malta are still investigating while magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo is leading an inquiry.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Maltese Energy Minister Miriam Dalli announced that Malta will get its second interconnector. The investment will have a capacity of 200MW and is estimated to cost 170 million. Minister Dalli confirmed that the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal to install a second interconnector, linking Malta to Ragusa in Sicily.
The Maltese government is foreseeing an increase in demand over the coming years to which it shall respond by diversifying in its source of energy, Dalli said, and added that energy generated through cleaner resources remains of utmost priority.
She explained that the government had assessed various connections, including Ragusa, Greece and Tunisia, and chose Ragusa for the advantages it offered over other locations.
The first interconnector, which was inaugurated in 2014, had already the infrastructure in place in case a second interconnector was installed. Minister Dalli said the process can start and the Maltese government aims to have the second interconnector up and running by 2025.
The key sources driving the demand in electricity over the coming years are GDP growth, electric vehicles and shore-to-ship supplies, an estimate increase in demand by 21% over six years.
The second interconnector is expected to result in a 58% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
The different options evaluated by the government included Malta-Calabria link, Malta-Hammamet, and Malta-Greece through the Ionian Coast.
Various factors were taken into consideration before the government finally settled for the Malta-Ragusa link. Apart from being the cheapest, it is also the least risky option. Moreover, an operational agreement is already in place which translates into a better stability.
On the gas pipeline, Minister Dalli said that it is still part of the Maltese government plans.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese health authorities denied the permession to the cruiseship MSC Seaside to enter the Valletta Cruise Port after a passenger onboard was tested positive for Covid-19. On Monday, the MSC Seaside, was expected to enter Malta. The cruiseship had left Syracuse, Sicily, on June 1 for a seven-day trip in the Mediterranean. However, it continued with its itinerary withoout stopping in Malta. This case was confirmed on the same day that the Maltese health authorities registered no new cases in 11 months.
According to MSC Health and Safety protocol, all guests both vaccinated and unvaccinated, will need to undergo some health and COVID 19 screenings including a COVID-19 test, a health questionnaire and a contactless temperature check, at the terminal before boarding.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese health authorities confirmed the first Indian variant of coronavirus. Professor Charmaine Gauci, the Superintendent of Public Health confirmed that the case was identified on Thursday night and is being investigated by the health authorities to determine whether it was imported.
The Indian variant is between 30% to 100% more transmissible than the UK variant. The UK variant accounts for 47% of all cases in Malta while the Brazilian variant makes up 37% of cases and there are just six cases of the South African variant.
To date, 51% of adults in Malta are now fully vaccinated, while 74% have received the first dose. No Covid-19 patients are in intensive care at Mater Dei hospital.
Of the 74 active cases, 13 are sporadic, 10 are linked to households, seven are imported and four are linked to social gatherings. The average age of people who contracted Covid-19 is just below 32.
Since 1 June, 95% of travellers reaching Malta presented correct documentation. No travellers tested positive during the last week.
During the past week, the number of new cases remained relatively low and no Covid-related deaths were recorded.
This week as more restrictions were lifted, the Maltese government also unveiled the vaccine certificate to facilitate travel, visits to elderly care homes and cultural test events.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – As Malta gears up for the reopening of the tourist season as from 1 June, travellers will be denied boarding unless they produce a negative Covid-19 test or a vaccination certificate. The documentation will also be requested upon arrival in Malta and passengers who fail to do so will be subjected to a PCR test and mandatory quarantine at a place designated by the Public Health Superintendent. The costs of the test and mandatory quarantine accommodation will have to be borne by the individual. Children under five years of age are exempt from the requirements.
Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela said that after the successful vaccination roll out, with over 70% of the adult population having received at least one dose, the next step will be to put the vaccination certificate into action. The certificate, Abela said, will facilitate travel and will be a precursor to an EU-wide certification process.
Addressing the press conference, Maltese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne said that Malta is in talks with a number of countries to agree on mutual recognition of certificates. Moreover, the EU is expected to introduce a similar certification system covering the whole bloc.
Fearne confirmed 48% of the adult population is fully vaccinated. He said the vaccination is working, and this is reflected in the dwindling numbers of people being treated in hospital for Covid-19. Currently, Fearne says, only three patients are receiving treatment for Covid-19 at Mater Dei Hospital.
Maltese Prime Minister added that if the number of new cases remain low, masks will no longer remain mandatory in July. This will only apply for fully vaccinated people. The total number of active cases now stands at 66. Malta registered 30,535cases of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, with 30,050 have recovered. However, the pandemic has claimed 419 lives in Malta to date.
During the press conforence, the Health Minister confirmed that there was a small problem in the administration of Pfizer jabs over the past couple of days following a small delay in the shipment of the vaccine. However, things will be back to normal tomorrow after a shipment arrived on Monday.
As from tomorrow, restrictions on mask-wearing on beaches and pools will be lifted, language schools will open doors to foreign students and weddings can be held, with a maximum of 100 people indoors and 300 outdoors.
From 7 June, bars can reopen but customers must be seated, cinemas and theatres can reopen too while restaurants and snack bars can increase the number of people on each table from 4 to 6; betting parlours and casinos can reopen, contact sports will resume and summer schools will reopen.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS) – Malta and Italy along with the European Commission declared that a stable political framework is aa condition for a broader partnership with Libya. This was reaffirmed during discussions held in Tripoli with the Libyan government.
The talks, involving the Maltese and Italian Foreign Ministers and the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement were held on the initiiative of the Maltese government. The delegation asked the Libyan government to define its priorities for improving the lives of Libyans, who are having great difficulty in coping with the cost of living and with the devastation caused by the civil war in the last 10 years.
The Libyan delegation was led by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, and included Foreign Minister Najla El-Mangoush and Home Affairs Minister Khaled Tijani Mazen.
Maltese Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio and European Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi insisted on the importance that a stable political framework is a condition for a broader partnership with Libya. They stated that a stable political framework would mean that Libya is included in the New Agenda for the Mediterranean and in the European Union Economic and Investment Plan. They reaffirmed European support to the Libyan authorities in the difficult process of recovery and national reconciliation. They also expressed their commitment to collaborate in various areas towards economic growth, job creation, and good governance. In this regard, they also said that realistic prospects for economic growth and prosperity can only be achieved through effective measure to fight illegal economic activities criminal networks, and illicit trafficking in the region.
On irregular migration, the European delegation said that the EU will continue to contribute to strengthening the Libyan capacity to contain the situation, both with regard to the Libyan coastguard, as well as the control of Libyàs southern borders. This in full respect of international standards and human rights, primarily the rights of the most vulnerable people.
The two sides also spoke about the reopening of European airspace to flights from Libya and the reactivation of direct connections with Europe once safety and security conditions are in place.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) condemned the Maltese authorities on how migrants are badly treated at sea and on land. A migrant from Còte d’Ivoire who was with a group of 80 migrants was told “there is no Europe for you today.” Two others on the same boat said Maltese authorities told them they had three options: return to Libya, continue to Lampedusa, Italy, or go to Malta and be arrested upon arrival. Other migrants recounted how detention guards in Malta encouraged them to commit suicide. One asylum seeker claimed that Maltese guards urged desperate and suicidal migrants to “go ahead, kill yourselves.” A Bangladeshi man recounted on how he was kept in detention for eight months, while there have been countless cases of attempted suicide and self-harm since he has been detained in Malta.
Others recounted inhumane conditions in detantion, how they were forced to drink water from toilets and the excessive use of force by security forces. An Ethiopian man described the shocking detention conditions, including migrants being forced to drink water out of the toilet due to a lack of clean drinking water; insufficient beds for all of the detained to sleep in, severe overcrowding and extremely hot temperatures without access to air conditioning or fans. The 35-page report ‘Lethal Disregard: Search and rescue and the protection of migrants in the central Mediterranean Seà includes experiences of asylum seekers who embark on perilous journeys between Libya and Europe.
The OHCHR report also showed how a child migrant recalled being met at sea by the Maltese coastguard, who told the people at sea “Malta does not want migrants… you should continue until you reach Lampedusa”. The Armed Forces of Malta denies categorically all accusations of illegal push backs of migrants at sea. However, the United Nations report gives a completely different picture. The report investigates allegations of delays in assisting migrant vessels in distress, as well as incidents of migrant vessels being turned away by European authorities. One such episode happened on 11 April 2020 the Armed Foreces of Malta approached a rubber boat that had arrived within sight of Maltese shores and handed out life vests to migrants in distress, but refused to allow them to arrive to Malta. OHCHR later received information that the AFM allegedly equipped the rubber boat with a new outboard motor, fuel, drinking water and navigational instruments calibrated towards Italy and that a private Maltese vessel escorted the boat in the direction of Sicily”.
OHCHR called on Malta and other EU countries to refrain from the use of immigration detention for migrants disembarked after rescue at sea. Instead, EU member states should expand the availability of human rights-based alternatives to detention, the report said.
LA VALLETTA (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Malta has avoided the danger of being grey listed by the Council of Europès anti-money laundering body after making “significant progress” in fighting money-laundering and terrorism financing.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Moneyval said Malta has succeeded to meet general expectations after a series of deficiencies were identified by Moneyval in 2019. It said Malta improved measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, demonstrating “significant progress” in the level of compliance with the Financial Action Task Force Standards.
After identifying deficiencies in the application of some of the preventative measures, transparency of legal entities, supervision and international co-operation, Moneyval asked the Maltese government to implement a range of legislative, regulatory and institutional measures. “The positive steps by the authorities have prompted Moneyval to assign Malta higher international compliance ratings in the mentioned areas.
However, the Maltese will have to report back to the expert group on further progress to strengthen its implementation of anti-money laundering measures.
The Nationalist Opposition welcomed the Moneyval report, describing it as a positive result for the country. “This comes as a relief for Malta, for businesses and for workers, particularly in the financial services sector, who had seen years of work and investment put at risk because of the way the government in the past seven years undermined the institutions and closed an eye to financial crime”.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese government has launched the second round of vouchers aimed at injecting some 100 million into the local economy as Malta slowly emerges from the pandemic.
Announcing details of the second round of consumer vouchers which will cost government 50 million euros, the Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela called for caution while recognising the peoplès desire to get back to normality. “The ultimate aim is to safeguard peoplès health but we must also strive for a successful and busy summer,” he said.
The prime minister explained that all residents in Malta over the age of 16 are eligible to a number of vouchers for a total worth of 100. Foreigners holding a residence permit will also be receiving the vouchers. 60 can be spent at restaurants and 40 on services and goods.
The first scheme of vouchers injected a total of 90 million in the Maltese economy. Up to 25,000 businesses are eligible to receive the vouchers.
The local health authorities announced that the total number of known active cases reached 96. Malta has five cases of the South African variant and 27 cases of the Brazilian variant. The UK variant accounts for 48% of the cases.
There have been 30,497 known cases of Covid-19 in Malta to date. While 29,984 have recovered, the pandemic has claimed 417 lives.
To date, the health authorities have administered over 453,711 doses of the coronavirus vaccine with 296,548 being the first dose, and 164,113 individuals are fully vaccinated.
Despite the low number of positive COVID-19 cases, all cultural events which were due to be held in Valletta until September have been cancelled on orders of the superintendent of public health.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – 88 people in a boat in Maltàs Search and Rescue Area (SAR) were illegally pushed back to Libya on Wednesday afternoon.
The sea rescue organisation Alarm Phone said a boat which was also spotted in Maltàs SAR with around 88 people was intercepted by the “so-called Libyan Coastguard”.
The NGO said the systematic pushbacks to Libya “have to stop immediately! People flee to find a safe place!”
NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans said “this is not the first time Malta is involved in illegal practices in areas that fall under its responsibility.”
This comes after Wednesday’s shocking revelation that the Maltese government paid a Libyan-flagged fishing vessel “three to four” times for ferrying asylum seekers intercepted at sea back to Libya.
Libya is not considered a safe port of disembarkation and last year, the United Nations said the North African country is “not a safe port for refugees and asylum-seekers to be returned to.”
So far in 2021, according to the latest statistics issued by the International Organisation for Migration, at least 685 people have died while trying to cross the Mediterranean.
Alarm Phone and other sea rescue organisations often relay GPS coordinates of boats in distress to Italian, Maltese and Libyan authorities and Frontex, the European Union’s border and coastguard agency, in the hope that the people at sea are rescued as required under international maritime law.
However, analysis of logs and emails from Alarm Phone and SOS Mediterranèe as well as reports by the Libyan coastguard show that the national authorities contacted frequently respond slowly, insufficiently, or not at all to the pleas for help.