Marsa centre ‘cannot become miniature immigrant community’ – minister

Migrants must be helped in moving away from centre and into society.

Justice and Home Affairs minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici said today that the Marsa open centre for asylum seekers and refugees was developing into a social hub for residents of other centres, placing further pressure on the centre’s services.

Addressing a conference on the quality of life of residents at the reception centre, which hosts asylum seekers released from detention, Mifsud Bonnici said these pressures were felt on the centre’s staff and infrastructure, and the locality’s residents.

He also warned that the centre cannot become “a miniature alternative society” for immigrants.

“Although there is some positive outcome to this, it is now clear that the centre needs to focus on selected services for its own residents, as they attempt to take the first steps in their new beginning.”

Mifsud Bonnici said open centres face the challenge of assisting residents in moving on to the next step at the earliest possible opportunity.

“It is in this light that sometimes difficult decisions, that are not always immediately understood, have been taken and will continue to be taken in order to ensure that persons do not ‘get stuck’ in Marsa for years on end.”

The minister called Marsa an “interesting experiment of successful cooperation” between the government and the voluntary organisation that managed the centre.

The minister also said the Marsa centre’s services were a temporary solution, not a permanent one. He said that ensuring that immigrants located at the centre make the shift from “getting stuck to moving on”, more services that focus on the immigrant’s needs and their plans were needed. “Timeframes need to be established and a care plan should be drawn up where needed.”

He said that government plans to reintroduce “culture orientation” offered by the International Organisation for Migration, and that the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS) is working on a project to design cultural orientation sessions.

“This does not mean removing relocation programmes from the picture,” he said. “One must recognise the hard reality of the fact that what we are doing is a pre-requisite for successful relocation.”

He reiterated Malta’s limitations in absorbing the migratory influx from Libya. “Our country’s geo-social realities are what they are, and its limitations will not go away… If we were to follow a different path, we would only be leading these people towards goals which cannot be achieved – a clear act of abuse and injustice.”

He said that all stakeholders need to understand this reality to arrive at a “concrete, realistic and honest approach.”

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Look at the picture above. I hope it's not 10:00 in the morning. While the maltese work, we are allowing able bodies men living in Malta for free. Did anyone notice this. Why not have them clean streets or clean something for the benefits we provide them with.
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Miskin Karmnu Mifsud Bonnici mhux qieghed jghix fir realita. Karmnu qieghed jahdem kontra il Maltin mhux favur il Maltin. Donnu ma jafx li hu qieghed hemm ghax il Maltin poggewh hemm.
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RJ, you are one naive man.Pension crisis looming. Another Euro talking nonsens. Go tell that to the spanish in Spain where 20% of the population do not have jobs. And almost 10-12%of the European do not have jobs and those are low figures. Mr. RJ, you have to have jobs to have have people contributing money to the pension fund. If you don't know that, you need a lesson in economics 101. I find many people very naive of the lack of education. Stop talking the liberal nonsense. I don't buy it and many other people don't either.
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@ B Right On EFA government was totally irresponsible for signing a deal which doomed immigrants to Malta. It was evident from day 1 that Malta had its limits in regards to this problem. Anyway if the only solution to this problem is to get out from the EU (I hope not!) then so be it. I wouldn't want to make part of a group which expects us to force people to stay in this small island against their will . @ Antoine Vella. Whether we like it or we don't, Europe will not keep on accepting immigrants forever. Repatriation deals are already being signed across the entire North Africa while countries like Turkey will soon join the EU creating more buffer zones towards the EU big guys (through the Dublin 2 treaty). Helping Africa from the inside is the only way to ensure a better future for these people. As B Right on said (and I agree with) a Marshall plan will be just a start. Africa will have to do its part but I'm optimist about Africa's future.
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@ Antoine Vella; . Can only confirm all of what you said. All. This is an accurate statement. . I lived in West Africa for a couple of years under the same conditions as any average African, i.e. most of time without electricity, running water or any other amenities of the western civilization. Most African countries are politically and legally in a state of limbo. I lived an African life with the huge difference that me, contrary to everyone else, had a European passport and was able to leave whenever i wanted to.
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First of all we have to understand that Europeans and Americans cannot solve the problems of Africa. Only Africans can do that. . A Marshall-Plan type of economic aid would solve nothing because the root of the problem is not economic but socio-political. . African society is essentially tribal in character and the idea of a nation-state is a largely alien one, was introduced by Europeans who thought that Africa could be modelled on Europe. . That is one reason why there is so much upheaval. It is not a question of how the boundaries were drawn but the fact that there were boundarie. The natural political subdivision of Africa would have taken the form of city-states rather than nations but, of course, city-states are hardly viable nowadays and bring their own problems. . Nigeria, for example, has over 500 languages (not dialects, languages) each spoken by a different ethnic group with its own identity. How can anyone ever hope to draw proper boundaries when the human geography is so fragmented? There are some 150 languages in Sudan, 60 in Congo and the list could go on. African reality is so much more complex than we think. . The so-called ‘civil wars’ which keep dragging for years are, for the most part, tribal conflicts and although there often are foreign interests involved, the origins of the hatred are all African. . It is African society itself which has to overcome this tragic and chaotic phase of its history. What we can do is alleviate the misery of those who manage to escape, without forgetting the others who are left behind.
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Africa has had the equivalent of 3 Marshall aid plans since 1950. At least 500bn dollars. Throwing money about hasn't solved the problem Colonialism has nothing to do with it too.That was more than 50 years ago. Malta was a ruin after the war. So was Poland which lost a third of its population, both countries did not receive any Marshall aid, yet have much better standards than most of Africa now. Why? The reason is increasing population, corruption and inefficient use of funds. As long as the population keeps doubling every 20 years there will be no solution. The land remains the same but the population keeps doubling . It is clearly unsustainable. They should copy China , a poor country which is not dependent on others and is successfully solving its many problems.
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Sorry CE but wasn't agreeing to Dublin 2 part and parcel of the deal to join the EU?
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I agree with you that Europe has done more then its share of mistakes in Africa and we also agree that the Marshall Plan is a good start. . Unfortunately the EU big guys will never put their hands in their pockets unless they first feel the full brunt of what they had done. That is why I am all in favor of Malta getting out of the Dublin 2 treaty which is only meant to safeguard these countries interests while contributing to add more frustration to immigrants who are forced to live in countries with limited opportunities like Malta.
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CE, I appreciate you ambitious and high-minded ideals for Africa. . As you may well know Africa's problems go back to colonisation which exploited their resources for the benefit of some Empire in Europe. . Boundaries were drawn where none existed and banana republics were formed imitating western style economies. What we are now left with is civil wars, tribal conflicts, food shortages and corrupt leaders who enforce their rule by exerting excessive power on their people. . These corrupt systems of government are held in place by arms deals that are entered into by supposedly very respectable, freedom-loving democracies like the UK, US, France, Russia, etc etc. . Why are we surprised then if some black people aspire to live a free life. The ones that manage to leave are usually the ambitious, resourceful and educated. . A Marshall plan would be a start!
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Considering that nearly all EU nations are resorting to ways (dublin 2 treaty/repatriation deals etc) to control irregular immigration then either we're a continent of racists or else......we're reaching the limit. I am against irregular immigration but all in favor on creating a Marshall plan that will kickstart Africa's economy even if I have to pay extra (through taxes).
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Considering that nearly all EU nations are resorting to ways (dublin 2 treaty/repatriation deals etc) to control irregular immigration then either we're a continent of racists or else......we're reaching the limit. I am against irregular immigration but all in favor on creating a Marshall plan that will kickstart Africa's economy even if I have to pay extra (through taxes).
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I generally agree with you, B right on. But i'm still convinced that most people do not have a problem with black skin nor that they are racists. Their biggest concern is that taxpayer's money could be used for something else than silly roofless opera houses or honoraria increases or stupid campaigns or...choose one, the list is endless.
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What most people have problem with is not immigration but black people: this is why they consistently fail to distinguish between illegal immigration, asylum seekers and refugees. To them they are all black people and black is what is upsetting them. . This of course is a problem of racism not one of immigration/integration. Prejudice and stereotyping are the product of illogical thinking. The very same illigocial thinking that made people reach the wrong conclusions about women's rights, civil partnerships, gay rights, etc. . How to deal with the issue of refugees and asylum seekers is a political hot potato that neither of the two main parties want to confront. The reason is that if they promise to do more, some will accuse them of using taxpayers' money incorrectly. Whilst if they take a hardline and promise to do less they will be accused of breaking international law in their duty protect vulnerable refugees. . So for political parties it's a no win situation: damned if they do and damned if they don't. This is why they continue to thread gingerly around the subject to avoid either being being harangued by the voters or being mauled by the other party. . Only a third party can provide reasonable and sober solutions to the issue of immigration because they may never form a government on their own.
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When will Dr Carm quit as he is certainly not up to it. But then he is one of the PN's dynasty - tal-Gross!
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@Antoine Vella Are you ready to foot all the bill because I have had enough of paying too much tax, and for what? The only solution is for EU to enforce burden sharing. But for this to happen you must have a PM who really has a 'Par idejn sodi' So in real terms there is not much hope of this coming our way from EU.
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPjzfGChGlE&feature=player_embedded
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Continued In my opinion the solution is simple. a) Make sure that North African countries treat immigrants well b) repatriation deals with North Africa c) A Marshall plan for Africa, to unleash its potential and bring stability to the area. . Having to escape from the richest continent in the world (resources wise) to go to another continent with little resources and a different culture is illogical. Meanwhile Europe will have to have a rethink of its policies regarding its ageing population. It will have to find ways to attract the immigrants that it needs and promote family friendly measures to turn the tide of an ageing population.
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@RJ Its true Europe needs immigrants but not the type of immigrants coming from Africa. Those immigrants are usually unskilled labor and Europe doesn't need them (at least at the numbers we're receiving) because labor intensive work had moved to Asia. Not to forget also that integration of such numbers have proved nearly impossible in almost any EU countries. Italy, France, Germany and even Britain have accepted that multiculturalism has failed badly. Now the irony is this. We're expecting to outperform such countries in terms of integration when we neither have the resources nor the the space of such nations. Our country is a sick nation already as it is (without immigrants). Its a small overpopulated island, with no natural resources, with llittle agriculture (which may provide work to immigrants as it did in South Italy) and a huge natural water supply shortage. Our social services are already burdened as they are and our labor market is small (especially now that the construction bubble went bust). Integrating so many immigrants (in proportion to our resources) is impossible. What angers me is not the government's inability to admit defeat in such issue but the fact that it still sticks to the Dublin 2 treaty when its only meant to put immigrants/locals lives into misery. Why forcing immigrants here when there is little future for them? That's cruel and goes against all christian and civil morals that this government is supposed to believe in
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Continued Meanwhile places in the South will end up taking a lion share of them as they always do. That's what I believe it would happen if immigrants were to be distributed across the entire island.
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@CE: to describe a person who is fleeing Libya as an "illegal" is incorrect. When a person flees a war-zone - you are seeking refugee. In fact, around 1 Million fled to the border. What Malta received is around 1,500. The problem with Malta is that it does not have a serious plan on asylum in Malta. As for Europe you are right, there is a resistance to the issue and anti-immigrant parties have increased their share in the electorate. . However, to say that they are a "kanna" is a bit out there. For instance, Germany's post-war boom could only have happened because of the many migrants employed in the construction sector - to have Merkel say that integration does not work, it is for me a bit cheeky to say the least. . In Malta, with a clear pension crisis looming in the near future, migration flow could be one of the solution (together with an increase of women in the workforce). so you need to have an open mind on this issue.
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I am not against having immigrants distributed evenly across various local councils. What worries me is that certain areas like Sliema, Madliena, Bidnija and the eco island will magically vanish from the list of those who will enjoy the sahha fid diversita.
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@RJ You may not have noticed but many locals (and immigrants) are struggling to make ends meet. Just because we've got a government whose priorities are all screwed up that doesn't mean that we can afford anything we want. BTW don't you think that if immigration is so profitable then other nations would have already taken all immigrants away from us by now? Illegal immigration is a 'kanna', no one wants it in his own country and treaties have been ratified so that immigrants stay at the EU borders.
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Dr Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici said: "Migrants must be helped in moving away from centre and into society." This is the prelude to what happened in other European countries. The central government will be imposing quotas on every local council, obliging each locality to take a given number of illegal immigrants. Why doesn't the minister come clean and say so in simple words?
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Dear John, kindly note that malta has already received 250 M EUR in EU funds to spent on the asylum system - so to say that taxpayers are being overburdened is incorrect. The government has also started an 80 million project for the city gate project and gave its cabinet a 500 EUR weekly raise. This is a sign that the government is doing well and can afford to improve certain centres. . Said this - is the Minister saying that they are planning a comprehensive integration programme? Or will they just kick people out from the centres into the streets? What kind of projects he has in mind?
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Antoine Vella, do you have the money to do that. Why not take some to your home and give them shelter as well. They are already living better than the conditions they ever lived in. They have a roof over their heads, free medical, receive a paycheck every few weeks, and they get free food. Stop complaining, because Malta is doing more than enough at taxpayers expense.
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Why is the minister still referring to "a temporary solution"? Immigration is a permanent phenomenon and Malta should organise itself accordingly. . One thing to do, for example, is pull down the co-called "centre" (actually a disused school) and rebuild it in a way that fits the purpose it is to be used. We cannot continue to force adults to sleep in classrooms, 20 to a room.