In a world of division, foundation aims to bring people closer

New project brings grievances of third country nationals to the fore as MEUSAC chairman points out that the EU project is built on integration

In a world of division, one foundation aims to help facilitate integration by bringing third country nationals closer to citizens.

Over the past two years, the Cross Culture International Foundation – based in Paola – has managed to bring together citizens from different countries to see the issues affecting migrants and third country nationals residing in the European Union at the moment. 

The ‘Citizens are Speaking’ project has nine partners in different member states, with Malta at its helm.

Addressing the ‘The Citizens are Speaking’ press conference, foundation chairman Alec Douglas that the Project has nine partners around different member states, with Malta being at the helm of the project.

“The project has opened our eyes to the challenges faced by migrants and children in particular, and we have also come up with a number of recommendations as a result of these complaints,” CCIF chairman Alec Douglas told a press conference.

“If we want to make Europe different we have to be the ones to make a difference.”

The project is partially funded by the European Union as it helps the EU to learn about the challenges and how to tackle migration and integration. Recommendations are drafted following workshops held with migrants who are encouraged to speak about their experience of integration.

“Many of the migrants made it clear that in terms of integration, the EU was all talk and no action,” project leader Hedwig Bvumburah recounted, as she delved into how the project had delved deep into the migrants’ concerns.

Bvumburah added that an organisation in Italy had used the game of chess to teach about the constitution, leading to enthusiasm towards the culture and norms of the host country.

She added that locally, children have been helped by volunteers to learn through activities outside the classroom.

Head of MEUSAC Vanni Xuereb argued that integration projects represented exactly what Europe ought to be talking about.

“There is so much division around the world, but our mission is to bring people closer together to face oncoming challenges. The EU has a future thanks to small projects like these,” he said, adding that they would continue to restore faith in the European project.

One of the migrants who came to Malta from Ghana in 2005, present at the press conference, said that he was appreciative of all that the country had done for them. As an artist, he had worked on a number of songs – a copy of which he gave to President of the Republic Marie Louise Coleiro Preca.

“However thankful we are, there are some issues we face with documentation,” he said, adding that obtaining an ID card beyond a yellow card was essential for them to be able to achieve working permits and ultimately a job in the country.

Douglas explained that the issue of documentation, which was one of the most frequently cited grievances, would be brought to authorities through the help of NGOs with a view to solve the issue.

Among the other issues reported in the document produced as part of the project, were issues of racism, discrimination and isolation at the workplace, as well as problems in accessing education and employment due to language proficiency, as well as a lack of integration in society.

Responding to some of the comments made, President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca said that steps were already being taken to improve the condition of migrants in the country, with the president's foundation for well-being facilitating dialogue between migrants and trade union leaders to address issues like injustices at work.

“I think bringing people together to tell their stories is the best way to achieve change, she said,” adding that she would try her best to take the complaints to the relevant authorities.


“European societies are becoming increasingly diverse with statistics showing that over 20 million non-EU nationals are now living in the EU,” she added.

Coleiro Preca explained that given the current state of affairs, it was ultimately the EU’s duty to achieve strategies for inclusion through the promotion of dialogue between different communities in an environment of respect and dignity.

 “Efforts are being made to show that early inclusion in education and the labour market as well as inclusion strategies will have a positive fiscal effect in the country,” she said, adding that ignoring the need for inclusion would ultimately be a waste of resources.

She highlighted the need to discuss with the private sector, NGOs and the affected parties themselves to offer a better future for third country nationals and for the country in general.

“Europe is going through great change, but our culture has always been built on democracy, the rule of law and the respect for human rights,” she said, stressing that it was important to work together to achieve social dialogue for better opportunities for all.

Among the recommendations made by the foundation, were the need to develop a more effective migration burden-sharing mechanism, as well as the creation of safe channels of migration, further importance given to search and rescue operations, as well as the provision of psychological support to refugees in need. Another recommendation is the provision of affordable childcare facilities to help single women to proceed with migration and integration procedure, as well as to allow the, to work and earn their family a living.

“We should also have a system to allow recognition of foreign qualifications or provide further training to third country nationals to allow them to obtain better jobs,” the document points out.

It goes on to add that third country nationals should not be excluded from access to social welfare funds as well as further support and more central locations for accommodation provided to refugees to further promote integration with local communities.