On Friday 27 January we organised a colloquy between refugee-led organisations and Government. The event was a joint effort between Aditus Foundation, African Media Association (Malta) and Spark15, part of the project 2incING. After so many months of virtual conversations, the colloquy was a needed face to face conversation about important integration themes: documentation, education, citizenship, political participation. As such, it was an important forum bringing refugees, migrants and Government to the integration table
It was an extremely fruitful exchange. Led by African Media and Spark15, the meeting was attended by representatives of the Government’s Human Rights Directorate, NCPE, UNHCR, IOM, ECRE and most local NGOs working with refugees and migrants. Our priority for this colloquy was that it be refugee- and migrant- led in terms of the agenda, priorities, tone, forum and structure.
Our priority for this colloquy was that it be refugee- and migrant- led in terms of the agenda, priorities, tone, forum and structure.Neil Falzon, Aditus Foundation Director
Why? Because experience and research tell us that dialogue between government and refugee- and migrant-led groups tends to be one-sided. Either taking the shape of tokenism or of a unilateral consultation, it is usually centered on themes governments want to, or are required to discuss. It is often government-organised and managed, resulting in a distribution of power and authority that is inevitably reflected in the process or outcomes.
Friday’s colloquy was an attempt to reinvent the table at which communities and Government can engage. The first of a series of similar meetings, the colloquy focused its attention on the political irrelevance of refugees and migrants in Malta, resulting in their marginalisation and exclusion across several sectors.
“On our terms” is how a spokesperson of African media described the kind of engagement they feel is needed. Whilst the meeting was clear about the need to strengthen or even to create political relevance, it is clear that a stronger discussion on how this could occur is definitely needed.
Which is why aditus foundation will continue to promote the growth and empowerment of refugee- and migrant- led groups. We firmly believe that it is only through their active partnership that we are able to make voices truly heard.
Organised in the project 2incING, partially funded by the European Union.