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[ 07. Mar 2009 ]

Malta: Migrants Solidarity Movement Launched

Press Conference

The decision to create this organisation was taken as we saw that the debate and policy surrounding immigration issues in Malta leave a lot to be desired, with the emphasis being always on the problems that immigration poses.


This is creating an atmosphere of panic amongst the Maltese public and hostility towards immigrants is on the rise; factors which can potentially lead to the exclusion of immigrants living in Malta. Therefore, as individuals who have been active in the field of immigration for many years both in Malta and in other European countries, we hope that through our activities and projects we will positively influence political decisions regarding the fundamental human rights of migrants, and counter the rising atmosphere of xenophobia in our country.

Migrants' Solidarity Movement has already embarked on some projects. From the beginning of January volunteers from the organisation have started giving English lessons twice a week to immigrants. We have also created a website, that gives information about the organisation, as well as information about immigration in our country. A particular section of the website will try to combat the misconception circulating the immigration debate.

The main aim of our organisation is to pass on the message that, while immigration is indeed posing challenges to a small country like Malta, politics that do not respect the fundamental rights of person and an atmosphere of racism and xenophobia certainly won't make the situation any easier.

We are therefor going to be raising the issues of:

- European policy: It is creating a situation where immigrants are getting stuck in Malta even if this was not their desired destination. We believe that the Dublin II Convention, that forces asylum-seekers to stay in the first country where they claimed asylum, is unfair and needs to be changed.

- deportation of immigrants back to Libya, and other measures which stop immigrants in the middle of the sea and force them to turn back: We consider these kinds of solutions as inhumane and we believe that ultimately they won't solve anything. Libya sends asylum-seekers back to countries of origin like Somalia and Eritrea, where they suffer persecution, abuse and even death. Furthermore, in Libya many immigrants are being thrown into prisons where they face great abuse.

- the number of immigrants in our country: We are going to argue against misconceptions based on the perception that all the immigrants that arrive in Malta remain here. In fact more than half of all the immigrants who came to Malta by boat have left our country

- racism and xenophobia: We are going to have projects which facilitate the inclusion of immigrants in Malta and which give the Maltese public more knowledge about the situations migrants face, both in their home countries and in Malta.

- the detention system: We view this system as unjust and useless. The fact that Malta detains immigrants who are fleeing wars and dictatorships, for up to 18 months in very bad conditions, goes against the fundamental human rights and doesn't in any way deter more migrants from coming to Malta. This is also inevitably causing a lot of frustration and tension in these closed centers.

- open centers: These centers are a good way of dealing with accommodation for immigrants. However we believe that the system could be better managed. Placing open centers in areas that can lead to exclusion is something which has to be avoided and every effort must be made so that these structures have decent conditions.

- work and immigration: Whilst we understand that many Maltese persons are facing lot of pressures and difficult working conditions, we insist that all this cannot be blamed on immigrants. We also believe that Maltese institutions must work to stop the exploitation of migrant workers

This Article by Ann Bugeja Migrants' Solidarity Movement (migrantsmalta (at) was published first on 11. Feb 2009 @ ::