Refugees in Malta are living in a ghetto-camp

Refugees in Malta are living in a ghetto-camp EveryOne appeals to the UN and the EU

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres,
Rapporteur on the EU Refugee Resettlement Programme Rui Tavares,
President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Jakob Kellenberger,
EU Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso,
Human rights commissioner of the Council of Europe Thomas Hammarberg,
Human Rights Organizations and democratic institutions.

Milan, May 7th, 2011.

The Maltese government has reserved a poor humanitarian welcome for sub-Saharan refugees despite them being entitled to asylum in the European Union.

The hangar at Hal Far airport, where the refugee camp has been set up, consists of several rows of tents and in no way does it comply with the United Nations or International Red Cross protocols. The witness accounts, including that of the young Ethiopian refugee Dawit Metamu, who has given interviews to both local and international newspapers, are very disturbing.

The ground is dirty and covered in pools of dirty water, the air is stuffy and stale, there is lack of mattresses and adequate sanitation.

Dawit arrived at the centre on March 29th after sailing from Libya, like the majority of sub-Saharan migrants. At first he was imprisoned, and then, after being identified and on the recommendation of UNHCR, he was transferred to Hal Far.

It should be pointed out that the campaign conducted by the NGO network for the rights of African refugees (which includes EveryOne Group and Agency Habeshia) was crucial in preventing protracted detentions and the pushing back of sub-Saharan migrants from Malta.

Eritrean, Ethiopian and other sub-Saharan family groups who landed in Malta were in turn transferred from deportation centres to the refugee camp. Again thanks to this campaign and the extraordinary work done by UNHCR, dozens of families have been offered shelter in Norway and other EU and non-EU countries.

In the hangar, however, where no sunlight or fresh air can penetrate, there are several children (even as young as four months old) sick persons and pregnant women. The children play on the filthy ground poisoned by diesel oil, and then put their hands to their mouths and eyes.

Some of the refugees are suffering from serious illnesses and are in need of special drugs, but nobody listens to them. There are four people living in each tent, but there are only two bunks. The kitchen is dirty and the food prepared for the 400 guests in the hangar is often inappropriate as no one has studied a diet for sick people or those with problems of food intolerance.

The toilets are in a terrible state, foul smelling and covered in faeces and urine: another source of germs for the refugees. According to witnesses the water, too, is often murky and foul smelling.

Despite the conditions they are forced to live in, the refugees have expressed their gratitude to the Maltese government, but they have requested, through UNHCR, the Red Cross and the European Union, urgent action to ensure the accommodation of families already tried by war and persecution is made more human.

EveryOne Group has sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Red Cross and the Rapporteur on the Resettlement of Refugees in the European Union asking that a suitable structure and welcome be provided according to international protocols in order to put an end to the shame of the ghetto in the Hal Far hangar.


Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro, Dario Picciau, Glenys Robinson – EveryOne Group

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