Migrant Centres or Uninhabitable Camps?

Migration has been a hot topic on the Maltese Islands for the last decade due to the ever increasing number of war terrors, the severe lack of local opportunities and the lack of hope for a better life that plagues a great number of countries in Africa and the Middle East. As a result, thousands of refugees have crossed the Mediterranean Sea in act of desperation to get away from the ongoing fighting and start a new life elsewhere – and they typically target mainland Europe or Mediterranean islands like Malta.

Even though Malta has seen much less people (in terms of quantity) come over illegally, due to its size, it is struggling to inhabit any more.

Malta is currently the 9th most densely populated country in the world and the relatively high influx of incoming refugees is not helping the very urbanized country.

This has been causing racial tensions and nationalism to rise in society over the time. Some believe this was proven evident through the results of the last MEP elections in 2019, where Imperium Europa, led by Norman Lowell, attained 3.59% of the popular vote. This made them Malta’s 3rd largest political party behind political giants PN and PL.

Leader of Imperium Europa, Norman Lowell

Entering migrants are dispersed into migrant centres on arrival and are isolated from the rest of the Maltese citizens through these living quarters.

Unfortunately, locals are generally failing to display any sort of empathy and sympathy towards these immigrants whenever a story about their peril pops up in the news.

While stories regarding migrant boats floating nearer to our shores are frequently flooded with angry Maltese commenting terms such as “go back to your country”, “let them drown at sea” and “we are full up!”, stories regarding havoc being caused in our own migrant centres seem to go relatively unnoticed or even ignored in comparison.

Multiple racist comments made on Facebook targeted towards illegal immigrants. (Times of Malta)

Robert Abela, Malta’s current Prime Minister, ensured this position immediately with newly elected opposition leader Bernard Grech. Right after congratulating him on his victory, he told him:

“The message is: the country is full up. And if we are not sending this message, then we have failed. The country is full up and cannot stand anymore pressure from migration…These people need to be repatriated”

Bernard Grech (left) and Robert Abela (right)

Locals who live nearby to these centres have informed us that they commonly hear screaming and protests coming from these centres. The sound of people screaming for help has grown typical around that area was among the reasons why locals called it a concentration camp when talking to us.

That brings up the question; why are they yelling and continuously protesting if we gave them free living centres?

Refugees captured behind fence at Safi detention centre

Below lies a list of a large sample of articles that were published this summer which I was able to find by simply typing in the term “migrant centre” on Times of Malta’s website. From all pieces listed, there is just 1 single positive piece out of a total of 24.

Article DateArticle Title
June 20, 2020Group of migrants escapes Ħal Far detention centre  
June 26, 2020Children need protection at migrant centres, report says
July 1, 2020Migrants jailed for six months after briefly escaping detention centre
July 2, 2020Migrants end up homeless as centres overflow
July 2, 2020Two men jailed for four years for violence, arson, at migrant camp riot
July 3, 2020Urgent medical evacuation needed for ‘suicidal migrants’ – rescue vessel
July 4, 2020Malta ‘repeatedly hung up the phone’ as migrants drifted at sea, NGO claims
July 5, 2020Sea-sick migrants kept in stinking animal spaces on rescue ship off Malta
July 7, 2020Beyond shameful for migrants to be left stranded at sea – NGOs
July 16, 2020Plans for new open centre are shelved
July 28, 202065 newly-arrived migrants test positive for COVID-19
July 29, 2020‘Save my skin’: Migrants share stories of their struggles in Libya
August 4, 2020COVID-19 spike: ‘PM unfair to blame migrants to cover his blunder’ – doctors
August 14, 2020Athletes raise €50,000 for migrants’ education
September 2, 2020Man dies after trying to escape migrant detention centre
September 3, 2020Migrants charged over Marsa detention centre riot
September 4, 202019 new virus cases in the community, 27 more in detention centres
September 6, 2020Watch: Migrants in covert video beg to be sent back home
September 11, 2020Eight per cent of migrants relocated to the EU in 15 years
September 12, 2020‘Oil tanker migrants’ set to disembark in Sicily, ending 40-day saga
September 13, 2020Migrants’ treatment beneath dignity
September 15, 2020Migrant injured in ‘hit-and-run’ suffered a fractured shoulder
September 19, 2020Migrants remanded in custody after Safi detention centre riot
September 19, 2020Guard charged with attempted murder granted bail, rioting migrants detained

Excluding the single article written about raising money towards migrant education, the other 23 stories include common themes of poor hygiene, mental health and overall safety and havoc within the centres or boats they travel on.

A screenshot taken of a recent news post depicting the awful treatment of migrants at a local centre

Over the past year, the Maltese have not only welcomed some boats onto our land, but on the other hand, have also allegedly attacked incoming migrant ships and at one point, used tourist boats to keep the refugees isolated at sea for many weeks at a time because “the country is full up”. Sadly, this exacerbated the mental health of all passengers on board and led to several suicides.

Boat used to store migrants at sea provided by the Maltese Government

While the situation already looks far too volatile with COVID-19 also posing a threat, we have virtually zero knowledge of what is happening inside the few detention centres in our country. The constant screams and attempted escapes give quite the indication of the scenes which take place inside. However, what is really going on within those high walls? What conditions do these refugees live under if they continually cry for help after being saved from the harsh seas?

Written by: Kyle P. Camilleri

2 thoughts on “Migrant Centres or Uninhabitable Camps?

  1. You can”t be serious, the are con artists “country shopping”, economic migrants causing civil trouble crime, rape, even murder they do not belong in Malta, and thanks to this kind of bleeding heart nonsense, ngo’s etc they are risking bringing more covid-19 to the entire Maltese population, as they can supersede all quarantine, under the giuse of being refugees, whilst the rest of us cannot travel to see our sick or dying relatives,not even to bury them, again SERIOUSLY!!!!

    Like

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