‘We are saddened by violence’ – Jesuit Refugee Service on migrant protests

Jesuit Refugee Services director says ever-present conditions inside Safi compound must be given proper attention.

The director of the Jesuit Refugee Service, Fr Joseph Cassar, has expressed sadness and regret at the protests of asylum seekers in detention at Safi barracks, but said the conditions inside the closed centre had to be given greater attention.

“We are saddened that police officers and army personnel were hurt in the violence,” Cassar said. “We cannot look at this indifferently.”

Cassar was cautious in pinpointing the reasons for the protest, which are believed to have stemmed from the failed appeals on rejected asylum claims for 271 detainees before their 12-month detention was up, automatically extending their detention now to 18 months. 15 police officers and three soldiers were slightly injured during the riot. One detainee was also slightly injured.

“It seems the asylum seekers in question have grievances they feel are not being addressed or could be addressed better,” Cassar said.

But he pointed to the ever-present conditions inside the Safi compound, as a factor that intensifies any ill-feeling that might be coursing through the migrant community.

“The physical conditions in Warehouse 1 and 2 definitely fall short of the basic,” Cassar said, saying that as many as 270 men are housed in what is essentially a warehouse. 

He cited the stressful psychological conditions that come with fleeing one’s country, due to the threat of war, long-term detention, and the uncertainty associated with seeking asylum status.

“They came here not by design, but because they had to be rescued,” Fr Cassar said, referring to how most migrants aim to reach mainland Europe but often find themselves in difficulty when crossing the Mediterranean sea.

“They come here and then what? This weighs on them a lot… Long-term detention breaks people down and wears down their morale – even when done with the best of intentions.

“I would have collapsed psychologically ages ago if I were in their place,” Cassar said.

During the protest, asylum seekers told journalists that whenever they are sick they are only administrated paracetamol tablets.

Asked about these concerns, Cassar said that medical attention definitely needs to be improved and described this as an ongoing issue.

While he said that there are drugs prescribed other than paracetamol, he said that individuals subjected to intense psychological pressure would have a tendency to think they are receiving inadequate care. “Some people might complain of health issues or feel unwell due to the psychological condition they are subjected to,” Cassar said.

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@ Antoine Vella Please stop calling other people idiots and fools. I happen to know you personally and I think you should be the last person in the world to start calling people names. Int fid-demel u l-qarghabali tifhem u bhala wiehed mill-ftit apologisti ta' Gonzi li fadal jigru mas-saqajn, inqas ma tidher u turi fhemtek pubblikament ahjar.
@antoine Vella. So you think that since these illegal immigrants dont have any documents, they cannot be kicked out . You are very mistaken. They came by sea, so our first option is to put them at sea with food and drink and face them toward africa and let them fend for them selves, the way they did comeing to Malta.
Send the trrouble makers back. From what the the Times of Malta reported, these individuals who got arrested are not from countries where they qualify for any humanitarian status. Period. Send them back. Anyone who attacks our people does not have a place in Maltese society and we do not want them among us. Its our right to demand their return to the country of origin. We do not want foriegn criminals among us. WE have enough of our own thank you.
Xprun, don't be an idiot. Immigrants who are refused refugee or humanitarian protection status ARE in fact sent back, eventually. . The problem is not as easy to solve as you and your racist friends seem to think, however. Most of these immigrants have no identification papers, let alone passports and, in many cases, their country of origin will not take them back without such documents. North African countries like Egypt do cooperate and that is why most detainees are sub-Saharan Africans. . So, stop making a racist fool of yourself and seek information before you make silly comments about what should be done. Do you think the world is waiting for your advice?
Conditions are not perfect Nina but we're giving more to these immigrants then the high moral nations who hide behind the Dublin 2 treaty. Not even the Vatican would dream of taking these immigrants away from Malta. Rest assured that they'll still give us advice on how to improve things though.
Yes Xprun and let's re-elect Hitler while we're at it. He had the right attitude, qed tifhem? Some people have had to leave everything they love and now don't even have a flushing toilet in which to take a shit - yet you complain more than them and you are shocked when they tell you they are not happy. Yes let's call a referendum and solve all our problems.
Do you know the difference between: * Illegal immigrant * Refugee * Immigrant * Foreign worker * Tourist ? If yes, then you can start to understand what this is all about. These people in the detention centres are NOT refugees. They are not fleering from war or are in danger of being killed. That's the truth. How they came over and their treatment in Malta is another story. But please first let's understand what's this all about. http://bitly.com/kIz5OI
Referendum question: Do you agree that we should send all the trouble makers who do not have refugee status back to where they came from? I bet anyone that the Yes vote on this one would be more than 90 per cent.