LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese government will be sending a team from the civil protection department and the armed forces to Libya after Storm Daniel caused unprecedented flooding, leaving at least 5,200 dead only in Derna and a further 5,000 people are missing and 7,000 injured. Malta is to send a contingent of 73 officials to assist in the rescue operations; 12 officers from the Armed Forces including a medical team and 31 members of the Civil Protection Department. They will be joined by another 30 soldiers on board the P61, which already left Malta. Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri said this was the third time in a few months that Malta was offering assistance to other countries going through a difficult time. Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior in the government appointed by the House of Representatives, Tariq Al-Kharaz, said that the death toll of Storm Daniel, which struck the eastern region of the country, reached 5,200 people in Derna alone, adding that 1,300 bodies out of that number were buried after the families had identified them, while there were entire families who died. Al-Kharaz said the number of bodies that had not been identified was massive and could not be buried at present because of the lack of resources and support, expecting the death toll from the floods in Derna to rise to more than 10,000 people. He also said there were still many unrecovered bodies, adding that specialized rescue teams from Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt were working to recover the bodies that had been swept into the sea by the torrents. In the meantime, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the Commander-in-Chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) issued instructions to provide urgent medical supplies, and offer shelter to those affected by storm Daniel.
Haftar directed the allocation of all necessary medical and military resources to support those affected, and facilitate the transportation of the wounded to hospitals. He called on the eastern-based government to form committees for damage assessment and losses, as well as to initiate immediate road repairs. expressed his condolences to the families of the victims, and highlighted that this “rare climatic catastrophe in Libyàs history has resulted in thousands of deaths, thousands more injured, and ongoing search efforts for the missing”. Storm Daniel swept through several areas in eastern Libya on Sunday, especially the cities of Derna, Benghazi, and Al-Bayda, in addition to Sousse and Al-Marj, leaving thousands dead and missing, and causing major infrastructure damage. On Monday, the Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah declared all the municipalities that were hit by Storm Daniel and ensuing floods in the east of the country as disaster areas. He also declared, during an emergency Cabinet session, mourning for a period of 3 days, directing all “officials and ministers without exception to assess the conditions in the eastern region”.
– Photo: Department of Information Malta –
FAVIGNANA (TRAPANI) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Egadi Blu Fest is scheduled until 17th September, a week full of events and initiatives organized by the Municipality of Favignana, the managing entity of the Marine Protected Area “Egadi Islands” as part of the project “AMPPA – Marine Protected Areas and Artisanal Fishing. Integrated management through environmental awareness and education” financed by the INTERREG V-A Italy-Malta Programme.
A festival to discuss the sea through different and good points of view; a widespread event that embraces the islands of Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo proposing various cultural, environmental, food and wine initiatives and tasting, talk shows, music, insights and meetings on sustainability and the value of artisanal fishing.
We start on Sunday, 10th September in Levanzo, where environmental awareness initiatives will be held in the morning. Qualified operators will be available to tourists and citizens to provide information on the issues of environmental sustainability, the protection and the good use of Marine Protected Areas. Workshop activities dedicated to children will also be held.
Other environmental awareness days will be held in Favignana on 11th, 12th and 13th September between Piazza Europa (information stands) and Spiaggia Praia (workshops for children). Furthermore, a traveling musical show is also scheduled for September 13th through the main streets organized by the Egadi Dixie Band.
The island of Marettimo will also have its environmental information and awareness day on Friday, 15th September with stands and workshops for the little ones in Piazza Scalo Nuovo. On Saturday 16 September starting from 8 pm in Piazza Madrice in Favignana, there will be the launch of Paolo Balistreri’s book “Favignana, water paths” and the Talk Show “The sea as a resource. Take care of it”, moderated by journalist Jana Cardinale, followed by the musical show with the Macuccusonu band. Sunday, 17th September will be the turn of the cooking show “The sea narrated at the table” by Chef Peppe Giuffrè (also in Piazza Madrice from 8pm). The musical entertainment will be curated by the Ciumara – Canti di cunti Siciliani band.
The “Egadi Islands” MPA is the leader of the “AMPPA” project which aims to contribute to protecting and safeguarding the marine and terrestrial biodiversity of the marine protected areas (on the islands of Sicily and Malta) through the creation of systems and services for the protection and restoration of transboundary biodiversity. Project partners are: the Regional Department of Mediterranean Fisheries, the Municipality of Ustica – managing body of the Marine Protected Area of the Island of Ustica, Gharb Local Council and Ghajnsielem Local Council.
-photo Amppa –
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – A couple of thousands attended a protest called by the Nationalist Opposition late Monday evening following another protest held in the morning by the anti-corruption NGO ‘Repubblikà in Valletta after more details were revealed accusing high officials at the Office of the Maltese Prime Minister regarding their involvement in social benefits fraud scandal. A number of beneficiaries have spoken on illicit claims resulting in monthly payments from the Social Security Department, averaging approximately 450 per month.
Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech called on police commissioner Angelo Gafà to investigate the benefits-for-votes scandal that has engulfed Robert Abelàs administration. He accused the Prime Minister of “corrupt practices” to rig the 2022 election in his favour, and added that despite claiming his innocence, the prime minister was the “ring-leader” of what he described as “organized crime.” “This happened under Robert Abelàs direction and protection,” Grech said. He added that Abela “deceived” voters, who have been arraigned in court, the people who orchestrated the racket, and who forged medical certificates have not been brought to justice or shouldered political responsibility. On Sunday, Abela insisted that the government immediately put an end to the racket which saw hundreds of people receive severe disability social benefits despite not being eligible.
However, according to testimonials given by various beneficiaries, they were approached to benefit from the racket just before the election; months after former Labour MP Silvio Grixti resigned from parliament in December 2021 who was implicated as the point of reference in the scandal. Beneficiaries of fraudulent disability benefits revealed that middlemen linked with the government or the governing Labour Party encouraged people to obtain the benefits that they were not entitled to, and that in return they expected a vote and kickbacks.
Another protest was held in front of the Office of the Prime Minister with ‘Repubblikà President Robert Aquilina, stating “vulnerable individuals have been turned into accomplices in a criminal system which saw the involvement of persons of trusts, canvassers, and Labour Party officials.” The NGO’s president insisted that the brains behind the system, which saw hundreds fraudulently receive severe disability benefits to which they were not entitled, should be investigated and arraigned in court.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament President Roberta Metsola emphasised that the racket was far more than simply benefit fraud: it was, among other things, “corruption in exchange for votes.” “This is what happens when corruption is allowed to continue unabated when the crooks are protected, when politics is seen as a get-out-of-jail-free card,” Metsola said. Malta, she added, needed zero tolerance for corruption and politicians who protect the public interest – who are held accountable if they don’t. “We need to clean up the system. And we will,” she concluded.
– Photo: fonte Partito Nazionalista –
TRIPOLI (LIBYA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Over 2,000 people have lost their lives, and over 5,000 others are between injured and missing so far in different cities and towns in eastern and southeastern Libya due to the torrents of rainwater and strong winds of Storm Daniel that revaged the region on Sunday and Monday. International solidarity and support statements are flooding in to Libya, in the wake of the devastating storm.
The Libyan Prime Minister-designate in eastern region, Osama Hammad, confirmed that they had registered 2,000 deaths only in the coastal city of Derna, confirming that entire neighborhoods had been ravaged and washed away by the storm. The Interior Minister, Essam Abu Zariba, also said that the number of missing persons could be over 5,000.
Meanwhile, the Government of National Unity and Presidential Council based in Tripoli declared three days of mourning and flew the Libyan flag at half mast to honor the victims, while the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives issued a distress call to the international community to help Libya respond to the weather catastrophe, saying the situation was sprawling out of control in some areas.
Storm Daniel arrived in eastern Libyan coast in the early hours of Saturday, after it had hit Greece and Bulgaria and a number of Mediterranean countries including South Italy and Malta. Once it hit Libya, the scale of destruction became bigger given the poor infrastructure and the nature of the areas within the storm’s zone.
The United Nations said it is assigning an emergency team to support the authorities in eastern Libya. Italy, Tunisia, Qatar and Turkey already confirmed their committment to send urgent assistance to the areas hit by the storm in coordination with the Libyan authorities to overcome the ordeal of floods. The United States Embassy in Libya said; we are closely monitoring the situation and are reviewing reports indicating the work of all Libyan authorities in their response to the affliction.
– Photo: OpenStreetMap –
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – An Italian tourist was fined 400 euro for damaging the main entrance of the Office of the Prime Minister in Valletta. A 20-year-old from Crotone, was tracked by the police after he went up and down the steps using a scooter in-front of the Office of the Prime Minister. Police checked CCTV footage after the Italian posed for a photo. He admitted to willfully damaging the steps which are protected as part of Maltàs cultural heritage. He was detained by the Police overnight and escorted to court on Monday. The damage was assessed by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, which amounted to 400 euro.
– Foto: DOI –
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The European Statistics Office, Eurostat, said that in the second quarter of the year, Malta together with Lithuania and Portugal had the largest growth rate in employment among the twenty-seven countries of the European Union. The growth rate in Malta of 1.3 percent was five times more than the average in the Euro Zone of 0.2 percent. Eurostat said that the biggest decrease was recorded in Estonia at 1.5%, Romania at 0.8 percent and Croatia at 0.7 percent.
The European Statistics Office added that in the second quarter of this year, Malta registered the fourth largest increase in economic growth among the countries of the European Union.
The Gross Domestic Product in Malta between last April and June increased by 1.1 percent and reached 3.9 percent compared to the same three months last year.
– Photo credit: Agenzia Fotogramma –
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Key European officials in various EU institutions were alerted about an organized criminal racket implicating Maltese government officials and Labour Party activists in helping hundreds of people illegally get disability payments to which they were not entitled in the months and years preceding the 2022 general election. Nationalist MEP David Casa has presented the case to the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Vice-President Vera Jourovà, and to the Chair of the Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group within the European Parliament. Former Labour MP Silvio Grixti allegedly conspired with ministers, aides, and high-ranking government officials to help hundreds of people illegally get disability payments to which they were not entitled. Casa said “the facts of this case are simply revolting and Prime Minister Robert Abela has shown where his priorities lie in the fight against corruption”. Casa added that the criminal enterprise is not to be seen in isolation, but “joins a list of incessant, unresolved cases of wrongdoing, which the Maltese public has to endure on a daily basis.” He added, “the only way this could have been accomplished was through government services being completely hijacked and systemically compromised so as to allow the fraud to proceed without question.”
Slamming the concerted criminal effort to defraud the taxpayer and manipulate elections, which has cost the taxpayer millions of euro, Casa said that while hundreds of criminals were being quietly exposed, the big fish continued to elude prosecution two years after the racket was first detected. So far, Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela declared that he immediately took action after receiving reports of the allegations. Former Labour MP Grixti resigned from parliament in December 2021 after questioning by police, however he has not been charged yet.
A number of people involved have claimed to have been referred to Grixti, a family doctor, by government ministers and their aides, Labour MPs, and even customer care officials from the Office of the Prime Minister. However, a spokesperson for the Office of the Prime Minister has denied the latter claim. Former Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi claimed that the Office of the Prime Minister defrauded the country between 20 to 25 million in social benefits, by issuing false medical certificates to pass a medical board. Emails from the a “high-ranking” official at the Office of the Prime Minister allegedly confirming the involvement of the higher officials in power were also published. According to the social policy ministry led by Michael Falzon, some 141 people have been ordered to return a total of 2.1 million in severe disability assistance benefits they were not entitled to. However, the ministry has only recouped 330,000 to date.
This is expected to be even higher as officers continue to investigate all 761 applications that were awarded the benefit between 2019 and 2022, the ministry said. The majority have admitted to fraud charges and agreed to pay back the financial benefits that they have received and were given suspended sentences by the Court. However, independent candidate Arnold Cassola and rule of law NGO Repubblika have urged the police to prosecute the government officials and Labour Party activists who orchestrated and organised this criminal activity.
Foto: Agenzia Fotogramma
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The international NGO Alarm Phone once again accused the Maltese authorities of ignoring a group of migrants who was in distress, and as a result the migrants were sent back illegally to Libya. The incident occurred on 2 September, when some 16 migrants were in distress in Malta’s search and rescue area and were pushed backed illegally to Libya.
In a post on X, the NGO said that after informing the Maltese authorities of the boat’s position – some 270km south of the island, “RCC Malta did not react to our alert. Shortly after we lost contact to the group. We were worried as authorities kept silent about their fate for several days”. Alarm Phone added that on Thursday it was informed by the asylum seekers’ relatives that the group was not rescued “but illegally forced back to Benghazi in Libya!”. Malta is often accused by NGOs and human rights advocates of coordinating illegal pushbacks of asylum seekers to Libya, which the United Nations already declared it is not a safe port of disembarkation. Despite repeated warnings and an ongoing case at the International Criminal Court, the Maltese authorities are persisting with the coordination of pushbacks of asylum seekers at sea to ensure that they are intercepted and returned to Libya. According to statistics compiled for the European Council of Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), Malta failed to rescue no less than 7,459 people in distress in 2022 alone. According to the Asylum Information Database (AIDA), Malta was involved in 14 pushbacks involving a total of 789 migrants during the same period.(ITALPRESS).
Foto: Agenzia Fotogramma
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – EuroPride activities kicked off in Malta with Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela describing the event as “it is not just a celebration, but also sends a strong message of love and equal rights for all.”
However, the participation of Israeli singer and former Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai was met with messages of protests, with Netta describing the event at the end of her performance by thanking the audience “for your love… and hate.”
EuroPride is a pan-European international event dedicated to LGBTQ+ pride that is hosted by a different European city each year. The organisers are promising various events from discussions on a number of LGBT+ issues to theatrical productions, from musical events to other entertainment events.
The Maltese Premier stated despite Maltàs accomplishments in civil liberties, there is still much to be done. “Equality is not static, it is something that must be adapted to new realities,” adding “we have to keep working, we want every individual to keep realising their dreams.”
He said activists played a central role in the civil liberties “revolution” and the LBTIQ+ community will always find an ally in him and his government, because he truly believes that love wins over hate.
EuroPride is being organized in Malta for the first time. The opening ceremony was followed by an after-party with the participation of Israeli singer and former Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai.
Just before Barzliai was due to start her performance, members of the audience pulled out flags of Palestine, a poster reading ‘Free Palestinè and started chanting “free Palestine” and “Queer pride not apartheid”.
News of Barzliaìs participation was met with controversy with activists arguing her support of Israeli ‘apartheid’ made her unsuitable for the event.
Organisers rejected calls and declared that the singer had a longstanding history of performing at Pride events across the world.
– foto: Agenzia Fotogramma –
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has disclosed an urgent need for $3.7 million dollars, to address the pressing necessities of migrants in Libya. Especially in light of rapid developments in neighbouring countries such as Sudan, Niger, and at the border with Tunisia.
The UNHCR pointed out that the additional funds would assist approximately 600 migrants directly, and provide for another 10,000 in shelter centers. The support would include essentials such as bedding, blankets, hygiene supplies, and other basic relief items. Furthermore, UNHCR plans to enhance the healthcare services offered at primary health centers, and clinics that cater to migrants. They highlighted the severe shortage of medicines and treatments in Libya, which has led to minor medical conditions becoming life-threatening situations.
In collaboration with the local Libyan authorities and communities, the UNHCR aims to expand into more projects in Libya which will focus on education, health, strengthening local communities, sports, and infrastructure. Approximately 20,000 individuals are expected to benefit directly from these programs.
It is also devising programs to enhance the skills and capacities of workers across various governmental agencies. This includes the Directorate for Combatting Illegal Immigration, and the Coast Guard.
foto: Agenzia Fotogramma