Fifteen of the 33 migrants who were arrested for deportation have been released, Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela confirmed to Lovin Malta today. Their arrest has sparked intense criticism from NGOs working with migrants who argued that it was unfair to deport migrants who have integrated in Malta for more than eight years.
It is understood that these 15 are rejected asylum seekers from Mali who have been living in Malta for years. Their release is most likely linked to complications with deporting them.
The move comes over a week after President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca appealed for the government not to deport migrants who have been contributing to society for years. Their arrest was also questioned by the courts.
A volunteer who visited the detained migrants this week painted a depressing image of the conditions in which the migrants were being kept.
“The conditions these are being kept in are horrible. While in December, there are more flies than people. A small room is being shared by 4 on two by two bunk beds. The mattress is thin, and the pillows have no vest. Tea was presented to most in half plastic water bottles. From what I could see access to fresh air is very limited. Christmas Day will represent the 41st day of detention,” said Jean Paul Borg.