Watch: ‘Refugee is not a disease’

Mary is one of twelve contributors who have shared their personal accounts in a newly published book. Addressing those who attended the book launch, Mary stated that ‘refugee is not a disease’, at which every one smiled.

Aditus Foundation launched Our Island II, a book which collects together twelve individual accounts, whose name and story is only shared, leaving out the country of origin and their status. The launch was addressed by Aditus Foundation director Neil Falzon, European Parliament Office in Malta acting Head and Press Officer Anna Zammit, a spokesperson for ECRE and two contributors to Our Island II Mary and Ousmane.

Our Island I is a collection of accounts of professionals working with asylum seekers and refugees and their personal experiences. In the second book, the aim is to share the story through the eyes of the individual, with Aditus Foundation director Neil Falzon explaining that the individuals contributed freely and in which accounts they talked about their lives.

When Mary took the floor, she told those gathered that she had arrived on Malta with her husband and her children. Having fled her country, she was given a second chance in life in Malta where she studied and graduated, and is now pursuing a Master degree. She did at one point leave Malta only to return back. She said that on the whole, Maltese people are good. Encouraging others not to be disheartened, Mary stated that being a refugee is not a disease explaining that sometimes people have to leave their countries. Mary further stated that looking back, she sees the good things that happened in her life and thereby forgetting the bad ones.

‘Migration discourse tends to ignore the very human stories that populate it’ 

Aditus Foundation director Neil Falzon opened the event on Friday. He explained that the idea behind the publication was to look around at refugee representation both in Malta and abroad. He referred to public discourse, saying that refugees are usually portrayed as ‘anonymously and invisibly’ as numbers or subjects of policy. He further explained that other times, the voice of refugees is brought out within the agenda of the NGOs.

Falzon also spoke about the need to allow refugees to be able to participate actively in political life, by allowing them to vote and contest both on a local, national and European level.

In the book’s introduction, Falzon explained that the methodology adopted was to identify contributors based on the Foundation’s wish to be more inclusive, in order to reflect the complex dynamics of the recent years.

Anna Zammit from the European Parliament Office in Malta spoke about statistics and data about migration. Speaking about the upcoming EP elections she said that populism may or may not dominate.

A spokesperson for ECRE (the European Council on Refugees and Exiles) also took the floor.

The book launch was linked to the This Time I’m Voting initiative of the European Parliament and the #YourVoteOurFuture campaign of European Council on Refugees and Exiles.