Limits to migrants' integration putting more strain on open centres – minister

‘Basic’ conditions inside open centres down to more asylum seekers unable to integrate due to Malta’s innate limitations, says minister.

Justice and Home Affairs Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici said Malta’s detention and reception centres were constantly full to capacity because asylum seekers and refugees were facing difficulties to integrate into Maltese society.

Addressing the start of a week-long of seminars for World Refugee Day, commemorated on 18 June, Mifsud Bonnici said “Malta’s innate limitations” presented asylum seekers and other migrants with difficulties to integrate, leading to prolonged stays at the centres. “This, combined with new arrivals, leads to a situation where the centres are constantly full to capacity. Evidently, this scenario hinders refurbishment of the Centres, although such projects have in fact been undertaken.”

He also said that it was preferable for the centres to host migrants who do not have alternative accommodation, rather than seeing them on the street. “This means that the standards at open centres could never rise beyond the provision of basic services,” Mifsud Bonnici said.

Mifsud Bonnici acknowledged that the situation at the open centres has often been criticised by international NGOs. Most recently Malta was taken to task by the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights Thomas Hammarberg, who said material conditions in the open centres which were housing some 2,300 migrants, were substandard and needed to be improved “as a matter of urgency”.The commissioner found that the tent village in Hal Far offered “clearly inadequate conditions of accommodation for short or long periods of time”.

Hammarberg also said open centre residents who had to register there three times a week to claim their subsidy, had less possibility of finding employment since most job opportunities are located away from the open centres.

Mifsud Bonnici said conditions at the open centres resulted from the asylum pressures Malta is facing. “It is, at the end of the day, one of the main reasons why Malta has requested the assistance of the EU Member States and the United States by means of the resettlement of beneficiaries of international protection.”

A total of 654 beneficiaries have been resettled to the United States since 2007, whereas 227 have been resettled to the EU through a resettlement project, and 190 other refugees resettled by means of bilateral projects with several EU Member States. France and Germany alone have resettled a total of 191 and 133 persons respectively. Another 10 EU states, as well as Norway and Switzerland, have pledged to take a further 385 persons, including 150 to Germany.

Mifsud Bonnici also said the recent arrivals of asylum seekers and migrants fleeing the Libyan conflict meant the EU “should do more”.

“This state of affairs confirms that more needs to be done not only for Malta’s benefit, but also for the benefit of persons in need of international protection, as further resettlement projects will also facilitate the integration of those who will remain in Malta.”

Mifsud Bonnici underlined Malta’s size limitations, pointing out its population density of 1,300 per square kilometre and a labour market of 150,000 persons in employment. “Clearly, these figures attest to Malta’s innate limitations vis-à-vis the long-term integration of significant numbers of migrants.”

He said that despite such limitations, Malta was awarding some form of protection to over 50% of asylum claimants. He said Malta received the highest number of claims in 2008 – 6.4 per 1,000 inhabitants, the highest in the industrialised world – when 2,700 asylum seekers reached Malta.

He steered clearly of any mention of the illegal Italian pushbacks which took place in 2010. “Numbers remained high in 2009, and despite the lull in the number of arrivals last year, this year’s conflict in Libya has already given rise to increasing numbers of arrivals; arrivals that are expected to continue in the future. Malta’s asylum pressures remain a constant feature.”

The minister paid tribute to the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, which is now deciding cases within a general average of six months.

Commissioner Mario Friggieri said this short duration was mentioning positively in the Hammarberg country visit report. “The report had only a very short paragraph about the asylum procedure, and in the circumstances I consider this as a compliment.”

Hammarberg noted that in 2009 the average duration was 5-6 months for a claim to be processed, leading to an increase in the percentage of recognised Convention refugees – refugees as determined by the Geneva Convention.

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Antoinne Vella, you are living in a fantasy land. MAybe you are not paying your share of taxes as a maltese or maybe you want to see a free malta destablized. Have you ever followed world events. Look what happened in Lebanon, Serbia, Kosovo, what is happening in the UK and the Netherlands. You have to be a fool to think the way you do.
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@CE What I hear you say is that burden sharing is a form of 'double bluff' a word which is difficult to translate into Maltese without a good understanding of reproductive organs and orifices!
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@ B right on I am not against immigration as long as its legal, it comes from people who actually want to come and stay here and it tackles key job shortages. The problem with this illegal immigration influx is that none of the criteria set above is satisfied. Immigrants don't want to come to Malta, they don't want to stay here and we don't need them, at least not in the numbers they are coming to Malta. Regarding the Dublin 2 treaty one need to highlight one important issue about it ie its not a UN international law. For example the US had never signed the Dublin 2 treaty. The deal seem to have one cause ie to lock immigrants at the peripheral part of the EU empire creating buffer zones that protect those countries that have the finances and influence needed to change things in Africa. Unfortunately none of these countries will ever move a finger towards regenerating Africa unless countries like Malta refuse their role as Europe's unofficial detention centers. Lets face it, it cheaper for them this way.
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@Antoine Vella If you think we should jump for joy because these people are coming here, why don't you take them to your home? Xejn xejn you would be helping your friend the minister by taking this problem off his shoulder! Maybe you have better ideas how to solve it!!! Halluna tridu! Veru li dawn in-nies nippruvaw nghinuhom milli nistghu, imma hadd m'ghandu jippretendi li ghandna niehdu piz li ma nifilhux ghalih. Wara kollox pajjizi ikbar minna ukoll qed ifarfru! Ahna farka hdejn l-Irlanda u jahasra se jehdulna GHAXRA u qishom se jaghmlulna pjacir kbir ul-Ministru jahasra jghidilhom thank you talli qed jghaddu zmien bina. Mill-banda l-ohra ma ntihomx tort ghax dawn gvernijiet li jgibu lil poplu taghhom l-ewwel ghax jafu li charity begins at home.
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@CE Most successful economies (US, UK, Canada, Australia) are reliant on migrant workers, hence why they have a need to regulate immigration. Immigration per se is a good thing it enables you to have additional workers for whom the state has not had the expensive responsibility providing education, child benefit and health care for the first 18 years. . Dublin 2 does appear to be skewed against border countries like Malta and I am not sure it would be a good idea to start decide nwhich laws to observe and which to ignore. . Africa has had problems ever since successive powers have sought to exploit it's resources and impose a western style economy to suit the needs of the west whilst at the same same time exporting arms and military equipment in exchange for resources thus upholding corrupt leaders.
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@B right on You're right, part of the problem is people merchants which are often part of organized crime who wouldn't mind killing people if they had to. That is why there is a need to disincentive illegal immigration in favor of encouraging legal immigration and invest seriously in Africa. That will never happen unless countries like Malta stop being Europe's unofficial detention center (through the Dublin 2) and allow immigrants to go in those parts of Europe were real money is. Regarding Maltese gaining citizenship and living in Malta, many of those people are former expats (or their children), EU citizens or people married to Maltese people/doing work in key areas (like doctors etc). These people certainly do not live on the taxpayers' back and they can leave Malta if they don't like it. That's the real problem here. We're forcing immigrants and locals to live in a situation that they don't like, arresting those immigrants who try to leave these islands for a better future. I wonder how our supposed 'Christian government can accept that at all.
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I don't claim to have the answers but I don't believe that hurling abusive comments at black people or whoever happens to be in power is a way forward.
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Part of the problem is people merchants operating from north Africa who exploit the would-be migrants. Since the breakdown on law and order in places like Libya these unscrupulous merchants are finding it easier to operate.. . Some even argue the old Libyan regime is sponsoring the flow of immigrants from Africa just to destabilise the region and get back at the old colonial power namely Italy. . Some pay a lot of money to make the journey and they hardly ever intend to end up cooped in a detention centre for months on end whilst any ambition to start a new life is gradually eroded away. . This diabolical situation of being in a state of limbo is not the life of luxury that people accuse them of coming here to advantage of taxpayers' handouts. . Most immigrants who acquire Maltese nationaliy are mainly Australian, British and Canadian and there is no outcry about limited space, resources, money and jobs regarding this group. . By the way I dont claim to have the answer. .
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Carm Mifsud what do you want us to do, take them home. Well said Olga I'm sure the politition got plenty of room.
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We should also have a referendum to vote on the number of migrants malta should be able to allow into our island. AS a small island, we cannot allow everyone and anyone who breaks the law in our country. It's us taxpayers who should make that deciision.
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Hasn't the time come to have a referendum on whether the Dublin treaty should be overturned in order to deal with the illegal migrant issue more effectively given the fact that the EU is not serious about burden sharing.
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@ B 40% are a minority and even in that case repatriation is often difficult if not impossible since these countries refuse to take their immigrants back. Regarding Malta uprising, those were triggered through alot of things. In the French case, the church had a say in it but other uprisings (Gonsalvo Monroy, Mintoff secular crusade etc) had purely political or social motives. @ Antoine Vella - Rich Maltese people were a rare and dying breed during the Order of St John's time. Regarding immigrants going to Europe, they go there illegally and if caught they are sent back to Malta. As I said before the problem is the Dublin 2 treaty. God knows why our politicians had signed it in the first place and why we're sticking to it when its so evident that its causing grief to locals and immigrants alike.
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Further to what B right on says, it is ironical that priests organised an uprising when their hunting rights were restricted by the Knights but nobody thought to protest against slavery. . And it is well-known that rich Maltese kept slaves too. It wasn't just the Knights. - Regarding the wish of immigrants to leave Malta, this is true and, objectively, it does hinder integration but, like the Maltese, immigrants too have to face reality. Many of them will never make it to the US or Europe so their options are to go back or settle here and I think that for most of them, the second option is preferable.l
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@CE By the way, most Maltese uprisings against foreigners were instigated by the church which was protecting its own vested interests on the Island, the one against the French is a classical example.
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@ CE Thank you for the link. . 6 out of 10 are granted asylum which I believe provides protection whilst your application is being considered. The outcome could still be repatriation.
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Not to forget that repatriation is a complex process which takes time. Various African countries refuse to accept their citizens back.
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http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20110404/local/malta-has-eu-s-highest-asylum-acceptance-rate.358137 Its is 60% in fact.
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@ B Right on Correct me if Im wrong but we give some form of protection to more then half the illegal immigrants coming to Malta. I doubt that Libya will ever sign the Dublin 2 treaty. That would be a very foolish deal to sign for them.
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It is important to distinguish between a refugee, an asylum seeker, an economic migrant and an illegal immigrant. . In reality most arrivals would not pass the strict tests to acquire refugee status and will be repatriated at some point. . Those being taken by other countries would I think have been assessed as refugees. . Dublin 2 would work fine when Libya signs up to it! . The alchemist has managed to put his finger on the real issue and that is not one of numbers or drain on resources but skin colour ie racism.
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Antoine Vella we shall never accept them and they shall never be allowed to remain here come what may.
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@ Sandy u l gvern kuntent li l Irlanda hadulna 10.... Vera kolonjalizmu gdid gejna. Huma jordnaw u ahna nobdu bid dahka fwiccna. Povra ahna u povra l immigranti li fpajjizna ma jsibux futur. Ghalhekk inhallsu l pagi enormi tal MPs u l MEPs.
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@ Antoine Vella Integration is part of Malta's history. On the other hand you're forgetting an important issue. In the past immigrants who came to Malta wanted to stay here. No one forced them to come here and if they didn't settled up here or didn't found any job opportunities they could leave Malta and go somewhere else. This is not the case with the current illegal immigration influx. Immigrants are not allowed to leave Malta and are forced to stay here even if they can't find work or there are not the resources/will to integrate. We should really thank the genius who signed the Dublin 2 treaty for our behalf since he turned Malta into a permanent Ellis Island for immigrants.
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According to Antoine Vella we should all jump for joy because one day we would all become chocolate brown. Perhaps, that is why they (Cadbury??) had invented the Maltesers - those small chocolate balls - in anticipation of this historic advent! Why doesn't he say that his beloved GonziPN is helpless in face of this grave situation.
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@ Antoine Vella The knights of St John ruled Malta with an iron fist and piracy/slavery was one of their most thriving businesses. When Napoleon came to Malta he was literally shocked by the population's level of poverty and illiteracy rate. Its not as if we had any say on what the Order did here and how they treated people in Malta.
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@ B right on While Malta has a long history of being ruled by foreign forces, it doesn’t mean that it didn’t had a sense of national identity. This was witnessed in various acts conducted by the Maltese during its long history. Rumor says that the locals were central in the liberation of Malta from the Carthaginians which granted the island with special conditions under the Roman Empire. History repeated itself once again against the feudal lord Gonsalvo Monroy which granted Malta some autonomy right until the Knights arrival and which autonomy was defended by the Maltese especially during the heroic forgotten siege of 1492. Not to forget the French revolt that was started and mainly fought by the Maltese. The fact that such small nation was able to do so well after gaining independence despite its limitations (lack of resources etc), show how strong Malta’s national identity is. Other bigger and richer countries have succumbed to ethnic and civil wars and corruption. It’s also a fact that the church played an important part of Malta’s history and kept a solid grip on the Maltese society mainly because of its immense riches (including a lot of land), power and influence. On the other hand, while it was nearly impossible to rebel against the church in Malta for obvious reasons, that doesn’t mean that majority agreed with it all the time. One can mention various episodes were the church called priest revolt against the order which found the cold shoulder from the Maltese citizens or Mintoff’s secular crusade against the church which brought great grief to this island. One can conclude that the Maltese always saw Malta as a nation. It was simply the case of times not being ripe (for obvious reasons) to demand independence.
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B right on is historically correct regarding the way the Maltese (not just the Knights but the Maltese themselves) used to behave towards slaves. . Many people do not realise that Malta was the last country in western Europe to abolish slavery and this happened only because Napoleon ordered it (never mind that he later re-interoduced it in the West Indies).
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People have to understand that Malta is in the path of a historic immense movement - a mass shift of population, mainly from Africa towards Europe. It's not something we can control or, much less, stop. . We have to adapt ourselves to the new world that is evolving. If there is a country that should not be making such a fuss about immigration, it is Malta because, let us not forget that most of us are descended from immigrants. Maltese society has always 'absorbed' foreigners who settled here and who have enriched our culture and made Malta the unique country it is today. . Integration is a first step but the real ultimate target should be assimilation. Even though most immigrants would like to go elsewhere, many of them will inevitably end up staying here; their children and their children's children will be as Maltese as we are - Maltese with black skin. . If we want to avoid racial conflict in future we have to start now, accepting Africans and making them feel they are among friends. We have to teach our children that immigrants are not 'invaders' but people, exactly like us, who want to live in peace, raise their families and be respectable productive members of society.
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@b right on Bil-pagi li jtuhom, ibqa cert li ma jhalsux taxxi. Illum lanqas il-Maltin stess ma huma jhallsu, ghax hlief part-time ma jridux. Jiena personali nithassarhom, ma niehux pjacir li jigu sfruttati, pero l-ewwel jibqa l-gid ta`pajjizi u tal-Maltin bhali. Huma minn naha taghhom jafu li huma problema ghalina imma jibqu jigu hawn ghax bit tajjeb u l-hazin sabu z-zejza. X`nista nghidlek? Thajjar rabbi xi tnejn mieghek ha nintegraw hi.
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Olga bir-rispett kollu imma int trieda hobla u tredd. Jew qieghdin kolla il-poliklinika tal-Furjana, jew qieghdin kolla jahdmu Mater Dei. U dawk li qed jahdmu m'humiex qed ihalsu taxxi?
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Min jipriedka l-integrazzjoni ghandu jaghti ezempju hu, u jiehu xi nofs tuzzana d-dar tieghu. Ahjar nindirizzaw il-problema tal-biza` li gejja fuqna dan is-sajf jekk ha nibqghu naccettawhom. Tmur wahda sal Poliklinik tal-Floriana tkun taf ghax ikollok bilfors tistenna nofs ta` nhar warajhom, daqs kemm ikun hemm. Hekk sew, ahna nhalsu t-taxxi u ma ninqdewx u dawn ma jhalsu xejn u jinqdew. Tmur l-Mater Dei l-istess, anzi anke l-'jobs' hadu hemm ghax hlief afrikani ma tarax jahdmu. Hemm bzonn inquma mir-raqda u nsemmu lehinna ghax diga qedin tard wisq, u mhux min jitkellem fuq din il-problema insalbuh.
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@CE Sorry to disagree with your version of history. My understanding is that Malta which formed part of the Kingdom of Sicily, was given to the Knights of St John for the ground rent of one falcon a year (qbila). Different wings of the Knights would have had a turn at running the island: Auberge de Castille; Auberge d'Aragon; Auberge d'Italie; Auberge de France; etc. The birth of the nation states (the Maltese) was a byproduct of colonilaisation and jobs a byproduct of industrialisation. As regards protecting of the locals, it is my understanding that the church was always perceived to be on the side of the locals hence why in Malta the people never rose against the church, that is until the Divorce Referendum of 2011.
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Dr Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici imissek TQUM naqra mir RAQDA li int rieqed u hlief ISSABBAT fuq il mejda meta tkunu qedin tiltaqawint u shabek ta l-UE rikward il klandestini lil MINTOFF riedu mhux lilek tal UE rieqed BHALEK TISWIJOM ukoll il 500 ewro +il 1 ewro 16 cents li siehbek Dr GONZI IRREGALAREK Xebaw jghadduk biz zmien tal UE
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Problem solved!!!! L-Irlanda se tiehu GHAXRA minnhom!
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@B Right on. Malta at that time was a colony of Spain loaned to the knight of st John for pittance. The Maltese had no say in anything and their destiny was decided by foreign forces who cared little about the locals self being. Meanwhile slaves were used extensively taking the locals jobs. Hey it does look like history repeats itself after all
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Antoinne Vella has a point! We can be an ungrateful lot sometimes. Most of Valletta was built by the slave labour resulting from piracy which was sponsored by the Knights. I dont think there is anything anywhere in Malta to commemorate and celebrate the contribution that slaves made in the construction of our bastions and city that we are so proud of. Napoleon abolished slavery in Malta and they eventually integrated into society. Perhaps it's a case of history repeating itself, for we are quite at ease with employing people from open centres to fill those vacancies that we would not wish to do ourselves.
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Thank you Dr Mifsud Bonnici for helplessly looking on and doing nothing to stop the EXODUX. We will remember you for ever!
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“Most recently Malta was taken to task by the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights Thomas Hammarberg”. Can’t people do a simple Google search? Go on http://www.cphpost.dk/classifieds/employment/51444.html?task=view and you will read that Denmark’s minister for immigration Soren Pind called the Swede Hammarberg “an idiot”. The Danes must know the Swedes better than us. Let me quote: “European Council’s commissioner for human rights criticises Denmark for not taking in refugees. Soren Pind didn't mince words in response to Hammarberg's criticism. To hear immigration minister Soren Pind tell it, the European Council’s commissioner for human rights Thomas Hammarberg is an idiot” whose opinions are not worthy of Pind’s time. Hammarberg last week criticised Denmark and other EU countries for not helping Italy with its influx of refugees from north Africa. According to Hammarberg, the unwillingness of Denmark and other countries to act on “fear of reactions from parties on the extreme right”, reported Politiken newspaper…When Pind got wind of the criticism, he responded in no uncertain terms. “The man is obviously an idiot and therefore not worth wasting time on,” Pind is quoted as saying by Politiken.”
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If they don't like it, they can lump it
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If we truly want to help immigrants then we should get out of the Dublin 2 treaty NOW and allow immigrants to go to the North. Malta is too small to act like some big detention center on Europe's behalf. You can never integrate immigrants if they don't want to stay here in the first place and you cannot offer them the future that they want.
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Malta is not doing enough. We're not even trying. . There is no real integration programme and anti-racism laws are not enforced. - For a start, every Local Council should host a number of immigrants in each town or village. it is important for all Maltese to get to know immigrants and accept them as part of their local community. . During the detention period, immigrants should not stay in tents but in prefabricated houses and we should then build proper open centres, fit for their purpose; they cannot continue to live in barracks and schools, sleeping 20 to a room. . There is no going back - Malta has changed irrevocably and, in a few years, we will have a small but significant minority of black Maltese. Racism must be nipped in the bud right now, before it takes root and becomes a cause of social tension.
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They shall not be allowed to integrate in Maltese society. Just send them back to their own countries CMB.