Give settled refugees Maltese citizenship, NGO council urges Malta

On World Refugee Day, the Malta Refugee Council calls for inclusive pathways for refugees, including citizenship, language training and integration in the community’s social life

Granting citizenship to settled refugees will give them stability and enable integration
Granting citizenship to settled refugees will give them stability and enable integration

Settled refugees need a clear pathway to become “real community members” and this includes citizenship and voting rights, the Malta Refugee Council said.

On the occasion of World Refugee Day that is commemorated on 20 June, the council urged Malta to develop “a clear and inclusive” pathway that enables refugees to be accepted and welcome.

It added that the pathway to inclusion should have goals that are core to being real community members, including Maltese citizenship, voting rights and the right to stand at elections.

“From the moment of their arrival, refugees are repeatedly told that Malta can never be their home… After years of life in Malta and despite their best efforts, they remain onlookers of Malta’s social and cultural life, burdened with the knowledge that Malta will never really be home,” the council said.

It also called for initiatives to encourage refugees to become self-sufficient through language and vocational training. “Their skills and qualifications should be duly acknowledged. At every step, we need to pay close attention to the stories accompanying each person: loss and pain yet also strength, resilience and hope,” the council said.

But integration goes beyond the formalities and paperwork, the council added. “It is also, and possibly more importantly, about having coffee with neighbours, socialising at band clubs, participating in festas, carrying the statues during processions, building carnival floats, supporting the town’s football team, having roles in Maltese television programmes, organising playdates for children.”

The council said creating lasting bonds will make Malta stronger and create a compassionate society.

The Malta Refugee Council is a network of Maltese non-governmental organisations working for the promotion of the fundamental human rights of persons in forced migration. The council’s mission is to advocate for legislation, policies and practices that are in accordance with Malta’s international obligations and best practice in the