Two mayors of Maltese towns directly dealing with the migration in the country played down concerns, imploring people to stop seeing the issue at face value and start to understand the situation better.
Joseph Farrugia of Birżebbuġa and Johan Mula of Ħal Safi know their areas better than most, having an inside and in-depth knowledge of the challenges facing their communities and how residents feel about the issue.
Speaking on Xtra following a series of protests and a riot at the Ħal Far open centre, both mayors seemed to have one consensus, that better integration was the way forward.
“We need more communication between them and us. We can’t just cast them aside. They need to listen to us, and we need to listen to them so we can understand each others problems,” Joseph Farrugia said.
“Never in my 21 years as mayor have I heard of migrants beating up or causing harm to Birżebbuġa residents,” he continued.
Mula agreed, lamenting how people regularly took the issue at face value, without even bothering to delve deeper into what could have caused the unrest.
Mula repeatedly stressed that any violence to any official cannot be in any way condoned, but extended his sympathy to those dealing with living conditions in the Ħal Safi detention centre.
“People have to understand that the close centre is like a prison. Imagine being in there for a few months with the conditions as they are, of course, there will be rebellion.”
“We need to work on preventing these kinds of things from erupting and identify the ringleaders, even the Police Officers Union said they aren’t happy with the amateurish management of the correctional facility,” Mula explained.
“A Ghanian man lived in Ħal Safi and became an integral well-loved member of the community. When he died back in his home country, people were crying, and we held a mass for him. Why is he different? It’s only because he was trapped within those walls,” he continued.
Both men, however, did acknowledge certain realities, namely that some residents do feel scared. Still, both felt this could be solved with improved enforcement in the areas.
Mula, on the other hand, did question the country’s own limitations when it comes to taking in migrants. He explained that, unlike other EU counties, our space is minimal, while Malta is being made to deal with the crisis because of its geographical location.