At Least 120 Migrants Were Made Homeless Yesterday In Malta - Here Are 8 Ways You Can Help Out
'It is our duty, as a nation, to ensure that no person lives in such terrible conditions'
Malta was given a reality check this week when shocking images of up to 120 migrants living in squalid conditions on an Qormi farm were released. However, for people working with the vulnerable, the poor, and with migrants, the housing situation in Malta, while shocking, is not surprising.
The men found inside the dilapidated farm were reportedly paying €200 a month each for a bed. A spokesperson from the Planning Authority said: "ultimately, the migrants were renting from the landowner, and the same way the rented from this man, they will be able to do with someone else now that they've left the farm."
With little resources and even less local connections, they could quickly find themselves in a vulnerable position.
A joint NGO statement points towards some of the issues migrants have to deal with
"We are extremely shocked and saddened at the discovery of around 120 migrants living in absolute squalor in a Qormi farm. As details of the incident continue to unfold, a story of exploitation, abuse and dehumanisation is emerging. It is disconcerting that some people are able to treat fellow human beings with such contempt and disregard for their dignity."
"A toxic blend of housing costs, labour exploitation and racism ensures that many African migrants are positioned at the far end of the socio-economic spectrum. Over the past few months there have been more and more reports of migrants being forced to pay obscene prices to live in the most abhorrent and inhumane conditions simply because they have nowhere else to go. This situation is unacceptable and something must be done in order to curb this profit-driven assault on human dignity."
"It is our duty, as a nation, to ensure that no person lives in such terrible conditions and that we value the humanity of all persons as we do our own. It is also our duty not to turn a blind eye to such terrible incidents, but to act promptly in order to prevent further human suffering and work towards making Malta a truly better place for all."
Neil Falzon, the director of aditus, a human rights NGO that was part of the joint statement, spoke to Lovin Malta on ways you can help vulnerable migrants out on the issue of housing.
1. Report any illegalities you see
"Silence makes you guilty," Falzon said. "It is being said that this farm and their activities have been going on for some time, but nobody reported. File a report, or call the police."
2. Support organisations that are on the ground and working with migrants
"Give any support (money donation, item donation such as your old laptop, or even your time) that you can give to those NGOs that accommodate or provide basic services to migrants, such as: aditus foundation, JRS Malta, Integra foundation, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, Migrant Women Association, or the Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants are just some examples," he said.
3. If you own and rent property, have a conscience
"Don’t increase the rent suddenly and without ample warning, give value for money, ensure you respect healthy and safety standards," Falzon said.
4. And if you do own property, consider giving one to charity
"If you own several properties, consider allocating one or some to vulnerable persons. Ask local NGOs to refer special cases and build a rapport with your tenants," he said.
5. Do not rent any place you wouldn't stay in yourself
Do not rent your garage, cow shed, or anywhere not fit for humans.
6. Learn your obligations as a lessor
If you plan on letting out apartments, you should look up and learn what your obligations are to your tenants.
7. Actually create a rent contract
"You should have a rent contract," said Falzon, "if you’re renting ask for it, if you’re the lessor, give it."
8. And no matter what, demand justice
"We need to demand justie. Let’s give severe punishments to people who offer these conditions in violation of the law," he ended.