We are shocked and saddened by the news of the death of Haji, the Somali man who died last Thursday under the bridge in Marsa. The grim discovery of his dead body, under the bridge that he had made his home, brought to light the disturbing but all too often hidden reality of poverty and homelessness among migrants in Malta.
Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding Haji’s death are not unique – our work is a daily encounter with people who cannot meet their basic needs. People for whom finding food and, at times, shelter is a constant struggle.
Their problems are often exacerbated by mental illness or alcohol dependence, which not only make people more vulnerable to poverty and homelessness in the first place, but also make it virtually impossible for them to break out of the destructive cycle of poverty without extensive support.
Although it would be facile to place all of the blame at the door of the state, it is clear that there is much more that can be done to ensure that migrants are able to live with dignity and effectively enjoy their rights.
Migrants, even those such as Haji who were granted protection, are provided with very limited support to rebuild their lives in Malta. Often they must turn to NGOs for help to learn the language, further their education, or to find a job or housing. Those struggling with mental illness or alcohol dependence, who need intensive services and support, are often unable to find it. This, coupled with difficulties finding work that is not precarious, seasonal or under-paid, and soaring rent prices, makes it increasingly difficult for migrants to live with dignity.
Over and above, policies that are apparently legitimate, often act as a barrier to the enjoyment of rights, leaving people trapped in poverty and destitution.
The right to live in dignity is a basic human right.
Today, as the world marks International Human Rights Day, we urge Government to address the issue of poverty even among the migrant population and to take steps to ensure that individuals living in destitution receive the support that they need to live with dignity.
Statement made by: aditus foundation, African Media Association Malta, Integra Foundation, International Association for Refugees, JRS Malta, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, Migrant Women Association Malta, Migrants’ Network for Equality, People for Change Foundation, Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta, SOS Malta.