As we are in another week of partial lockdown, the lack of work is making its effects felt on the most vulnerable people in our society. Newsbook.com.mt reached out to Mgr Alfred Vella who heads the Malta Emigrants’ Commission to learn more about how the outbreak of coronavirus in Malta has impacted their work and the lives of the people who would usually seek their assistance.
The Malta Emigrants’ Commission office in Valletta which was a reference point to asylum seekers and migrants living in the community as well as those living at the open centres or at shelters, has been closed off in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus. The employees have been working from home and are trying to assist those who come forward as best as they could.
The commission in total runs fourteen residence homes which homes asylum seekers and refugees. These include the one in Hal Balzan and thirteen others scattered around Malta. Mgr Vella explained that the commission’s biggest headache concerns the residents at these homes. Every morning he would call to check on them and see if they needed anything.
“Our biggest concern is about our residents,” Mgr Vella told Newsbook.com.mt. “What will happen to them? How will they weather the storm?” Mgr Vella remarked highlighting that many people are out of work due to the partial shutdown with no income. “We had to find a way to ensure that they have food,” he said.
“It is heartbreaking. Many are getting in touch. They have no income. They used to work in construction, the catering and hospitality industry. Everything is closed.”
Mgr Vella noted that apart from the financial issues, vulnerable people were facing a housing issue. Before the coronavirus pandemic, migrants and asylum seekers had already been facing problems due to high rent, these have been further exacerbated when one has no income.
Other problems that are coming to light is that of domestic violence. Since people have to stay home without income or any form of assistance and often in overcrowded spaces, tensions tend to flare up, Mgr Vella noted.
How can one help?
Asked how can the general public help the commission continue with its work at such a particular time, Mgr Vella said that one may send a donation by check to
Malta Emigrants’ Commission,
Castille Square, Valletta