“Malta is a very bad place,” – Asylum seeker

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

An Eritrean youth who spent three months living in the Initial Reception Centre in Marsa has decried the conditions in which newly disembarked asylum seekers are hosted in. Other refugees have spoken about their experience of having to live and sleep in cold containers at Ħal Far “Tent Village”. The asylum seekers have spoken to The Irish Times and expressed their frustration at being held detained after escaping hardships back home. The article speaks about the harsh realities that refugees face after they land in Malta.

Migrants have reportedly told Sally Hayden that they were elated after they land in Malta, however, this was short-lived, since after a medical check up they were placed in a detention centre and locked up for three months.

Another asylum seeker told the The Irish Times that he does not think it is possible to integrate in Malta and dreams of starting a new life in Luxembourg where he aspires to become a mechanic. Further he added, that he did not speak to any Maltese except for the authorities who dish out orders at him.

A 17-year-old asylum seeker who arrived in Malta seven months ago, said that it was a problem being here and that the situation was deteriorating. He explained to the journalist that he ‘does not want to be here anymore and wants to move forward’. The youth explained that since he did not have any knowledge of English he found it difficult to find work on Malta. He complained that there was no school were he could learn the language and was forced to work.

A $10,000 voyage brought Ala to Malta from Eritrea. He spent two years in Libya where he spent months in one of Libya’s notorious detention centres.

A youth from Somalia explained that minors and elderly have to work without having the opportunity to study or attend school. He highlighted that it is survival of the fittest contest with everyone chasing money, and this makes it difficult to build a community.

Around 3,400 asylum seekers disembarked on Malta in 2019. The UNHCR representative in Malta, Kahin Ismail, said that 1,400 persons are illegally being held at the Marsa and Ħal Safi detention centre. The report said that some have been detained up to five months.

In November a court had declared the detention of migrants as “illegal”.

Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia replied to a UNHCR tweet saying that there was a request to assist Malta in relocation of migrants found at the Initial Reception Centre after “a record year of rescues” carried out on the high sea under Malta’s responsibility.

“So far not even one arrangement for relocation has been offered. So easy to criticize,” Farrugia wrote.

Asylum seekers have been staging protests for freedom since September.