4 April 2014

UNHCR and aditus Foundation have published a report on integration in Malta from the perspective of refugees and service providers in the public sector.

The study is based on findings from both house visits with 150 refugees, residing in local communities, and interactive training sessions to front-desk staff and managers of mainstream services.

Many refugees live separately from the Maltese-born population and rarely engage in social interaction with neighbours or the local community. Although over 50% of the interviewed refugees were employed, many earn low wages and have been exploited, especially in case of irregular employment. In addition, refugees face communication challenges that adversely influence their understanding of guidance provided by service providers.

The publication has been welcomed by Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity, and Helena Dalli, Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties: “Malta is continuing to make the case for further engagement with the EU on the basis of solidarity. But we also need to seriously address the reality of migrants and refugees who are here to stay and give particular attention to the needs of separated and unaccompanied children. We welcome this report; giving attention to the views of those granted asylum as well as the perspective of people working as service providers. Only through establishing the facts of the situation is it possible to define what is required to facilitate positive settlement, foster integration of people granted protection in Malta and ensure the wellbeing of separated and unaccompanied children”.

aditus highlighted that an integration strategy should be based on an endorsement of the view that refugees are welcome to rebuild their lives in Malta in accordance with clearly stipulated rights and obligations as guaranteed in international and regional instruments. According to aditus, the national discourse should therefore reflect this view by shifting from an exclusive focus on resettlement and relocation to a more balanced one incorporating local integration. aditus also underlined that a national integration strategy should carefully assess the impact of Malta’s mandatory detention on refugee integration. 

Last Sunday, on the occasion of Malta’s Freedom Day the Maltese Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, publicly pledged to put an end to children’s detention. Both aditus and UNHCR welcomed the Prime Minister’s declaration.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 04 April 2014
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