Homeless migrants who have been reduced to sleeping at Triton Fountain Square, Valletta, have erected banners to raise public awareness about their desperate situation.
Photos uploaded by the NGO African Media Association Malta show a sheet erected underneath the bastions and kept in place by four water bottles bearing the words “We are expelled from the immigration centre and we dont have housing. This is our problem.”
The migrants’ clothes, blankets and satchels can be seen nearby.
“A group of asylum seekers have been evicted from the refugee centres and are sleeping at the entrance of the capital,” African Media Association Malta said.
Migrants are usually allowed to stay at the Marsa and Ħal Far open centres for up to a year, after which they have to find their own way and make way for new arrivals and people currently housed at the detention centre.
Human rights lawyer Neil Falzon, from the NGO aditus, urged the government to provide them with accommodation, along with support and initiatives to help them live independently in the community.
“The government needs to deal with them; asking them to leave the open centres in the knowledge that they will be left homeless isn’t a solution.”
“Malta’s rent market is what it is and tends to be racist, with many landlords refusing to rent out their properties to black or Muslim-looking migrants and others willingly renting out substandard places, such as garages, for high rent.”
He warned the situation has exacerbated since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March, with restrictions resulting in a loss of income for many people.
“COVID-19 showed how precarious their job situation is; they were made redundant or put on fewer hours at the click of a finger. Just as Maltese people on certain levels, these people are in a very fragile situation and COVID-19 emphasised it.”
Lovin Malta has reached out to the Ministry for Social Accommodation to find out how the government intends to tackle this problem.