Migrants’ network for equality determined to voice their issues

The Migrants’ Network for Equality, made up of the 11 different migrant communities existing in Malta, was launched today to fight for equality.

“For long, many of us have felt the need to do something about our situation here,” Abshir Abdala, spokesperson for the Network said. “While in Malta there is a lot being said with regards to immigration, the voice of the migrants has been generally missing.”

Abdala said that this network, which includes migrant communities from Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, Ghana, Niger, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Gambia and Sierra Leone, is an “ongoing process”, where other community migrants will join in the future. The network started to form around four months ago, after one of the migrants committed suicide.

“We are not trying to create opposition to Malta or the Maltese,” Abdala said, “we just want to construct dialogue so that together we can build something which is beneficial both for Malta and the migrants here.”

The Network’s first action was to send a letter to the Minister for Justice. In the letter the Network highlighted important issues, urging the government to reopen the debate in the European Union on the granting of right to travel, and the right to live and work in European Union countries for persons with protection. “Malta was the only country which opposed this EU proposal,” Alidu Osman, another spokesperson from the Network said. “Granting such rights would make it possible for some of us to go and live in other EU countries.”

Amongst others, Osman said that the first solution to this impasse would be that of residency permits. “Because the asylum application might have been refused to some people, a solution could be reached by granting permits to individuals who have been living and working in Malta regularly for not less than two years,” he said, irrespective of their status. Such migrants should be entitled to receive benefits, he said.

Osman also pointed out his disappointment in the open centres. “We are convinced that it is possible for the Maltese government to create Open Centres that meet, at the very least, the basic standards needed to uphold the dignity and wellbeing of people,” adding that there has been no improvement to the centers.

“We realise that Malta is a small island with limited resources. However, we live in thirst, hunger and poverty. We have to endure the summer heat and cold winters in tents where there is hardly space to move,” Osman said, not leaving out the discrimination and hostile racism they have to face everyday. “We go up on a bus, we sit, and people next to us start shifting away from us. Why?” Osman asks.

The letter to the Minister of Justice was signed by 11 representatives of migrant communities in Malta, 12 NGOs and 26 University academics. Andre Callus from Moviment Graffitti, representing the 12 NGOs, said that they are really pleased about the network. “We are ready to give it all of our support. In Malta we have heard a lot about migrants but we have not heard it directly from their voice,” he said adding that “migrants should have a voice in migration issues.”

Asked by MaltaToday what is the Network’s next step, Callus said that they are going to tackle issues step by step as they unfold. “ It is difficult for them to a long-term plan, however their next step is to wait for a reply from the Minister of Justice. They will also be sending a letter to the European Union,” he said, commenting that this step will take a long time.

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eleonoray86cws Ca?uana
It is not true that the Constitution doesn't automatically grant Human Rights to everyone. What you are talking about is citizen rights, something different. Are you saying a non-citizen should not be granted a fair trial or be arbitrarily arrested? Thankfully it isn't the case. Learn what? I'm talking about Maltese people in different groups, especially workers organizing themselves, especially at the workplace, where even the main Trade Unions are affiliated in the 2 political parties. But so what if we are overworked and underpaid, as long as we can force migrants back to Libya and separated people from marrying again? It is this mentality I am challenging. What we should learn from these people.
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Alfred Galea
TS, when you enter a country illegally you have no rights. Even the constitution says so. You have to be a citizen to be protected by it. As for Maltese learning from these illegal immigrants....learn what?? How to deceive your benefactors? How to try to take advantage of your hosts' hospitality? By the way, can Malta Today tell us which NGOs are involved in this and WHO are their various leaders??
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eleonoray86cws Ca?uana
Most of these people come from countries where you don't even dream of exercising the right to association and express yourself freely. Rightly so, they are exercising these rights here, a democratic country. There is absolutely nothing wrong. In fact it is admirable, and the Maltese people should learn from these men and think about safeguarding their OWN rights rather than denying them to others (migrants, gays, separated couples etc). We have always been led with the PN and PL deciding everything for us and find abuses against us, especially as workers and consumers, as acceptable.
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They are soooooo arrogant.
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Alfred Galea
Osman say....... [However, we live in thirst, hunger and poverty] I say he should apply for those 5,000 euros repatriation program and he can go back to his land of plenty. And to make sure he tells those thousands waiting in Libya that that's what they'll find in Malta, thirst, hunger and poverty. These people have GALL.