How did the government, Opposition, agencies and unions react to Sunday's riot?

The PN said that ‘those who reside in the country have the obligation to observe its laws’ while the government said that a considerable number of migrants did not participate in the riot

The Nationalist Party has condemned what it is calling "acts of violence" carried out during the night at the Hal Far open centre.

On Sunday evening, migrants rioted at the Hal Far open centre, setting five vehicles belonging to employees on fire, along with a police car.

A number of rooms within the building were torched, while a police officer was slightly injured.

In a statement, the PN said that those who reside in the country have the obligation to observe its laws, while stating that those who break the law must be prosecuted.

“The PN expresses its solidarity with the police, the army and officials at the detention centre who were assaulted during the incident,” the statement read.

Government says a considerable number of migrants did not participate

The Home Affairs Ministry issued a statement saying that while some 300 migrants participated in the riot, a considerable number of them did not participate in any way.

The statement read that around 60 migrants were arrested and are awaiting interrogation in relation to the fires at Hal Far on Sunday evening.

The ministry wrote that the issue arose when a migrant was returning to the open centre while intoxicated and was disallowed entry due to the premises' protocol.

"The Home Affairs Minister [Michael Farrugia] thanks the employees of the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers and police forces for their work and expresses solidarity with all those who lost belongings in the fray or were hurt."

Farrugia met with representatives of AWAS and confirmed that a meeting with the General Workers' Union will be held with regard to their work conditions.

In a parliamentary response to a question by PN whip David Agius, Farrugia said that Malta is a democratic country that welcomes peaceful protests but that the law applied to everyone, whether foreign or Maltese.

"A number of persons who are involved will be charged in the coming days and a magisterial inquiry has been launched," Farrugia confirmed. 

UNHCR urges government to improve open centre conditions

The UNCHR Malta has urged the Maltese government to take immediate action on the conditions of the reception centres describing them as "overcrowded".

"Malta and its Armed Forces have done commendable work in rescuing the lives of many at sea and for leading solutions on disembarkations. This has, however, led to considerable constraints on the resources of Malta and to overcrowding in the reception centres - both close and open - and thereby falling far short of acceptable standards," it said in a statement.

UNCHR Malta argued that it could understand the frustration and anxiety the current conditions could pose for the people detained, in particular for vulnerable individuals such as unaccompanied minors. 

"Resorting to violence can never be a solution as it puts both the residents and staff at risk," it added.

General Workers' Union asks for security for AWAS employees

The General Workers' Union reacted to the Sunday riot by urging the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers to provide further security to its employees. 

"We will be making this very clear in tomorrow's meeting with the Home Affairs Ministry," the union said. 

It added that the AWAS employees have had to face situations beyond their control and that, for this reason, they should be allowed the peace of mind to quell situations like the Sunday riot.

"The union is ready to take any possible action in the absence of such security to protect all the employees involved. We have also asked the authorities to reimburse all those employees who suffered damages during the fray."

Faculty for Social Wellbeing stands in solidarity with guards and personnel

The Faculty for Social Wellbeing has said that it unreservedly condemned the violence committed in Hal Far in a post on Facebook.

"[The Faculty] stands with solidarity with the guards and personnel affected by these acts. We call on the concerned parties to act in a moderate manner that eases tensions rather than escalating the violence. Violent acts of rioting do not emerge out of nowhere," Social Wellbeing Dean Andrew Azzopardi said.

He insisted that if pushed hard enough, anyone would be capable of violent reaction. The responsibility falls on the authorities and society at large, he added, to identify the source and cause of such violent retaliation and to find plausible solutions as opposed to "feeding the fire of hatred and mass hysteria."