From Covid to Cardinal -2020, the year in photos

2020-year-in-photos
Photos by Miguela Xuereb

Endings and beginnings. That is what we face in the last week of every year. This year, as a professional photographer I witnessed a multitude of challenges. Not only was it notable for the incredible impact which COVID-19 had on health, society and the economy, it was also a year which started with considerable political tumult.

January

The fire at Marsa open centre left hundreds of migrants waiting outside for hours including a few who needed medical assistance at the scene. Regrettably, the comments on FaceBook show a public largely desensitized to the plight of these unfortunates.

New year, New Prime Minister; after weeks of political unrest which led to the resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Labour supporters cheer and applaud the newly sworn-in Prime Minister of Malta, Robert Abela.

Defying specific orders by Prime Minister Robert Abela to keep the Daphne memorial at the Great Siege Monument in Valletta untouched, thick red liquid was thrown onto the memorial.

Daphne-memorial-vandalism
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

… and on that same day, a protest for truth and justice was held in front of Parliament

February

Final farewell to well-loved actor George Micallef. Mario Micallef, his brother, hugs friends after his brother’s funeral.

Sorrow is followed by joy as the Pawlini celebrate the feast of the patron saint of Malta, St Paul. Archbishop Charles J Scicluna joins in the celebrations.

Archbishop-Charles-J-Scicluna-greeted-by-people-at-St-Paul-feast
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

USS Mount Whitney from the Sixth Fleet berths into Grand Harbour. The crew are made welcome in Malta.

Council of Europe rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt’s first meeting inside Castille with Prime Minister Robert Abela. Omtzigt is highly critical of the current state of the rule of law in Malta.

Pieter-Omztigt-during-meeting-with-Robert-Abela
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

Flowers and candles were placed next to Daphne’s memorial in Valletta to commemorate the 2nd anniversary after the brutal assassination of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kusnirova in his home in Slovakia.

Jan-Kuciak-and-Martina-anniversary-since-assassination
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

March

The collapse of a family home ed to the tragic death of Miriam Pace. The woman was trapped for hours under the debris of her own home that collapsed next to the construction site in Joseph Abela Scolaro Street, bordered between Ħamrun and Santa Venera. Residents and neighbours were watching from their balconies, as well as every media house, desperately waiting while rescuers painstakingly remove debris in the hope of finding the woman alive. All hope proved vain.

miriam-pace-debris
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

Malta paid its last respects to Miriam Pace the following days later, a church packed with friends, relatives and also people who didn’t even know Miriam in person, but still wanted to express their solidarity with her family. As she was carried out of the Carmelite church in Valletta, people applauded her and shed tears before she was placed in the hearse.

miriam-pace-funeral
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

The beginning of Prof Charmaine Gauci’s daily COVID-19 press briefings. After the first case of coronavirus confirmed in Malta on March 7th, The Superintendence of Public Health Charmaine Gauci began updating the people on COVID-19 cases on National Television.. and also being bombarded by endless questions by journalists.

Malta’s first ever coronavirus testing centre in Luqa opened its doors to people who felt symptoms of the virus.

This was also the year the Wearing of the Green disappeared. Another first in Malta, one of the country’s most celebrated day full of events, St. Patrick’s Day was cancelled due to the growing pandemic. St. Julians, the city which is usually jampacked on this day with partygoers was completely empty.

st-patricks-day-paceville-empty
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

The deserted airport of Malta; the country’s only airport closed its borders and halted travel to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

gloomy-empty-airport
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

Who remembers the song Ghost Town in the 80’s? Well, who would have thought then that Valletta, a city teeming with life, trade and culture would become just that?

empty-valletta
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

April

A number of soldiers and police secured the perimeter of the Ħal Far open centre which was put on lockdown due to the increasing COVID-19 cases surging through its community.

A vessel owned by Captain Morgan, Europa II, loaded with mattresses, food and water, leaving Sliema to host 57 migrants outside territorial waters. The migrants weren’t allowed in Malta due to ports being shut down amid the coronavirus outbreak.

captain-morgan-leaving-sliema-to-house-migrants-outside-the-maltese-islands
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

Camping outside the Prime Minister’s office; activist Xandru Cassar spent a few days outside of Castille to raise awareness and advocate for the protection of the lives of the persons stranded at sea.

May

The Alfred Mizzi Foundation’s ‘Solidarity Meals’ preparing meals to individuals and families who were experiencing financial problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The solidarity meals were in support of Caritas, Alf. Mizzi & Sons and Vecchia Napoli.

Extensive grass fire at Aħrax Mellieħa which resulted in 450 protected trees most of which were burnt to a crisp after a firepit that was not extinguished after being used by campers in the area.

Ahrax-Mellieha-fire
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

A heartfelt banner exhibited by a DHL plane saying “thank you” to the health service frontliners who have been facing the global pandemic on a daily basis.

DHL-thank-you-frontliners
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

After months of shut down, non-essentials shops were re-opened to the public, this time people have to wear masks to enter shops.

people-wearing-masks-at-the-point-after-covid-measure-lifted-shops-to-open
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

The empowering three-storey mural of a healthcare worker wearing a mask and crushing a coronavirus with her hand by Justinks in Żabbar. The mural was created as thank you to the heroic frontliners of Malta fighting the virus.

justinks-and-murals-coronavirus-art
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

June

Another Covid casualty was the job of 69 Air Malta pilots. This image shows the sacked pilots returning their uniforms to the company.

air-malta-pilots-hand-over-belongings-after-being-fired
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

The return of protests; wearing masks, activists took to the streets again to protest against corruption and call for truth and justice for the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Black Lives Matter vs All Lives Matter, two groups of protesters with the complete opposite aims met face to face in Freedom Square, Valletta. The Black Lives Matter movement was sparked by the death of George Floyd in the United States.

July

A Court paid a visit to the Ħamrun site in which a building site collapse led to 54-year-old Miriam Pace being killed in her own home. Present on site were the four man arraigned over the incident, Magistrate Joe Mifsud, Miriam Pace’s husband and children.

Court-visits-site-of-Miriam-Pace-death-scene
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

Welcome, again! Malta welcomed its first tourists since commercial flights were stopped last March, as restrictions introduced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic have been partially lifted. The first commercial flight by Air Malta arrived from Fiumicino, Italy.

August

The lifeless body of Antoine Dalli being carried out of his home in Għaxaq. Dalli was allegedly shot by his father after a family dispute.

body-of-Antoine-Dalli-after-being-murdered-by-his-father-in-his-home-in-Hal-Ghaxaq
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

A loggerhead turtle nest at Għadira bay protected by Environment and Resources (ERA) and Nature Trust Malta. This was the fourth confirmed turtle nest of the year.

turtle-eggs-ghadira-bay
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

Flowers are placed by loved ones on the steps of murdered Christian Pandolfino and his partner Ivor Maciejowski’s Sliema residence. This brutal Mafia-style murder sparked alarm in the area.

Chris-Pandolfino-Ivor-Maciejowski-home-locker-street-double-murder-police
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

The ninth bishop of Gozo; Dun Anton Teuma was consecrated to the See of Gozo in a ceremony held at St John the Baptist rotunda in Xewkija, succeeding the now Cardinal Mario Grech.

September

Former Education Minister Owen Bonnici visits schools to issue the guidelines and protocols to be implemented in schools before re-opening during the pandemic.

Owen-Bonnici-showing-distance-between-desks-in-class-before-first-school-opening-during-pandemic
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

The Blessed Gerard Residence for single migrant mothers and their minor children, a new project of the Maltese Association’s peripheral organisation the Maltese Cross Corps, was officially inaugurated by Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna who blessed the premises at Guardamangia, in the presence of the First Lady Mrs. Miriam Vella.

Archbishop-Charles-J-Scicluna-blessed-gerard-residence
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

Meanwhile, everything requires maintenance. A man sprays pressurised water on the walls of Ricasoli Breakwater, where maintenance and repairs are underway by Infrastructure Malta.

man-sprays-water-on-wall-in-breakwater-valletta
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

October

A supporter of Bernard Grech cheered with excitment as Bernard Grech was elected as the new PN Leader, defeating Adrian Delia. Adrian Delia is then seen entering PN’s Dar Ċentrali.

Devastated Dingli residents and environmental activists disrupted the felling of hundreds of years old Carob trees, after workers turned out to clear the way for a controversial road project through Dingli farmland.

old-carob-trees-cut-down-in-had-dingli
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

Malta marked three years since the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Family, friends and activists gathered in Bidnija for a solemn vigil to pay their respects to the late journalist.

Daphne-Caruana-Galizia-3-Years-Bidnija
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

November

NGO Repubblika set up chairs and flowers to remember the 101 coronavirus victims. The commemoration was held in front of Castille after the death toll in Malta surpassed 100 victims.

Repubblika-commemorates-COVID-19-victims
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

World-famous tenor Andrea Bocelli at St John’s Co-Cathedral while filming in Malta in preparation for his Christmas entertainments, particularly the Live concert which will be streamed from Parma.

Andrea-Bocelli-in-Malta
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

Malta mourned the death of poet, writer, academic and a giant in Maltese literature Oliver Friggieri. His funeral was organized by the state as a tribute to the importance of the literary contributions of this well-loved academic.

State-funeral-Oliver-Friggieri
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

After an intensely difficult 9 month journey due to the pandemic, little Sathvika who’s all the way from India finally met her Gozitan family with sparkling tears in her eyes.

Sathvika-arrives-in-Malta
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

December

In spite of the fact that this year the 12th edition of Bethlehem of Għajnsielem was cancelled due to the pandemic, the village got its attraction by a massive 19-metre Christmas tree made up of 4,500 glass bottles which is dedicated to the victims and heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ghajnsielem-chrismas-tree
Photo: Miguela Xuereb

Former prime minister Joseph Muscat, accompanied by his lawyer Charlon Gouder was greeted by protestors in front of the law courts in Valletta, as he prepared to testify in the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry.

Cardinal Mario Grech led a thanksgiving Mass at St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta after becoming the third cardinal in Maltese history last month.

Kardinal-Mario-Grech
Photo: Miguela Xuereb