VALLETTA, May 20 (Xinhua) -- Migration forces Malta to carry a "disproportionate burden," with one percent of its population being migrants who arrived on the island in 2019 and so far this year, the government said on Wednesday.
In a statement, the government reiterated that the small Mediterranean island was being left alone to deal with the influx of migrants into Europe.
The government said that 3,405 irregular migrants arrived in Malta last year "as a result of human smuggling through the central Mediterranean route." It said that to date 610 pledges for relocation have been received but only 88 of them were actually honored. The rest, 2,795, remained the sole responsibility of Malta.
The government said that only eight percent of migrants who arrived in Malta since 2005 had been relocated to other member states despite arrivals exceeding 21,000.
Since January, 1,222 irregular migrants have arrived in Malta. It said that migrant arrivals through the central Mediterranean route have increased by 438 percent in the first three months of the year and 300 percent in April.
"While Malta has respected to the full its international and European obligations, the principle of European solidarity, which is also enshrined in European legislation, is not being adhered to," the government said.
The Maltese government has recently rented two large boats, usually used to take tourists on tours around the island, to temporarily house around 160 migrants until a European solution is found. The boats are berthed some 13 nautical miles away, just outside Malta's territorial waters, local media reported. Enditem