As part of his state visit to Malta, German President Joachim Gauck met with NGOs working with refugees and migrants in order to discuss the current national and regional situations. On 30 April aditus’ Director met the President, together with his accompanying delegation composed of German MPs, media and government officials. We were invited together with JRS Malta, the Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants, Andreas Gemeinde Malta, Integra Foundation. Also present were UNHCR Malta and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).
During the meeting, Neil and his NGO colleagues highlighted the difficulties faced by asylum-seekers, migrants and refugees in Malta. Neil emphasised that the present calm, due to all rescued migrants being taken to Italy, should not be interpreted as that Malta’s challenges are over but should be taken as an opportunity to revise legal frameworks, structures and policies in order to prepare for possible arrivals.
The NGOs drew the President’s attention to Malta’s detention regime, emphasising that desperate refugees fleeing wars and persecution are locked up in terrible conditions with little or no provision of psychological or other support and dependant on NGOs in order to receive information or advice about their situations.
The President was also interested to hear why refugees do not remain in Malta but chose to move on and go to other Member States, such as Germany. Neil expressed his sadness that Malta, a beautiful, safe and prosperous country, was unable to offer a home to men, women and children fleeing human rights abuses.
Together with his colleagues, Neil referred to on-going discussions on the formulation of a national integration policy and expressed hope that this policy will give refugees and migrants a reason to see Malta as a potential home. Finally, the NGO group shared ideas on what Germany could offer in terms of solidarity and support with Malta, including increased internal relocation possibilities, technical support, re-opening of discussions on the Dublin III Regulation.
We are extremely honoured to have been invited to this meeting, and look forward to seeing Germany offer Europe what is desperately needed: political leadership to effectively and humanely tackle migrant deaths at sea.