Watch: ‘We feel the situation was avoidable’ – Integra Foundation Director

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

‘We’ve been raising our concerns for months about the conditions inside the detention and open centres,’ Integra Foundation Director Maria Pisani said in a comment to Newsbook.com.mt outside Ħal Far Tent Village on Monday.

The situation in Ħal Far open centre was calm on Monday morning after a protest broke out on Sunday night. Pisani was onsite before riot police entered the centre at around 11.30am on Monday.

Read: Watch: Riot Police at Ħal Far Tent Village

Speaking to Newsbook.com.mt, Pisani said that the situation remained unclear. Some thirty to forty migrants were arrested using zip ties and whisked away. She remarked that ‘there was complete calm before the police turned up’.

Read: Watch: Policeman slightly injured; 3 cars ablaze in Ħal Far protest

Pisani added that she feels that the situation was avoidable, adding that the scenes were upsetting but not surprised. She added that the NGOs have raised their concerns for months about the conditions in the detention and open centres as well as the conditions under which the staff from the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS) were working.

Since September, migrants held in Ħal Safi detention centre pending medical check ups have protested for their freedom. NGOs have warned that arbitrary detention is illegal and each person should be evaluated case by case basis.

Pisani urged the government to provide a better avenue for dialogue in order to address the situation both at the detention centre as well as the open centre.

‘The Government should take immediate action in improving the conditions at the centres’ – UNHCR

UNHCR Malta expressed its concern at the incidents which developed at the Ħal Far Tent Village on Sunday night and Monday morning.

In a statement the UNHCR said that Malta and its Armed Forces have made a commendable job in rescuing lives at sea, adding that this however led to considerable constrains on the resources of Malta and to overcrowding in the reception centres – both closed and open, falling far short on acceptable standards.

The UNHCR urged the government to take immediate action in order to improve the conditions at the centres.

The UNHCR called on the law enforcement agencies to reach out in dialogue and avoid action that might exacerbate further the situation.

Aditus Foundation in a Facebook post said that it repeatedly warned that the situation had reached a breaking point, adding that it already had expressed its willingness to discuss strategies with government and offered its support to all entities involved.

Video: Miguela Xuereb

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Migrants protest for their freedom at Ħal Safi detention centre

Protest takes place at Ħal Safi detention centre

Protest for freedom at Safi detention centre