aditus foundation and Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta) are extremely saddened by the recent news of yet another tragedy at sea that resulted in several people dying. We are further upset by Malta’s treatment of the survivors. According to news sites that we are unable to confirm, 21 persons were taken to Malta’s main detention centre.
We underline that anyone going through such a horrific experience requires immediate psychological support. The survivors came within inches of death whilst at the same time witnessing their friends and possibly loved ones drowning around them. No words can possibly describe the mental state they must be in.
We therefore strongly urge Malta to offer them all the psychological support they require, particularly to the most vulnerable. This support cannot be provided in detention, but requires a safe and caring space. This is an opportunity for Malta to do what is right.
As always, we stand ready to provide our own services as soon as we are able to.
(AFM photo of the boat while out at sea: Jonathan Borg, from Times of Malta)
We are extremely happy to share with you the publication of the most comprehensive report on Malta’s asylum regime, covering 2022: the Asylum Information Database report (AIDA). This year, the report also includes a separate Annex providing detailed information on the implementation in Malta of the Temporary Protection Directive throughout 2022. The AIDA report is published by ECRE.
The report provides in-depth information on the various aspects of the asylum regime: asylum procedure, reception conditions, detention, content of international protection. It is based on months of desk research, complemented with information provided by various entities…who we sincerely thank for their cooperation.
Malta Refugee Council demands and official inquiry into the death of a young girl
At the end of August, Loujin, a four-year old Syrian girl, boarded a wooden fishing vessel on Lebanon’s coast with her mother and one year old sister, Mira, and set out across the sea with over sixty other people from Syria, Palestine and Lebanon.
Running out of basic provisions and taking on water, they began sending out distress signals on 2 September, 2022. Those distress signals were immediately relayed to the Maltese authorities.Joint Press Statement on the vigil for Loujin held on 16 September 2022
Publicly available information on Loujin’s tragic death is conflicting. One version claims Malta was alerted to the distress situation on 3 September and that no concrete action was taken to secure the lives of the persons aboard the fishing boat. Another version claims that Malta was informed on 6 September and every step was taken to protect all lives, including that of Loujin.
The version everyone must agree on is that Loujin did not survive the ordeal, dying of thirst in her mother’s arms.
At the end of August, Loujin, a four-year old Syrian girl, boarded a wooden fishing vessel on Lebanon’s coast with her mother and one year old sister, Mira, and set out across the sea with over sixty other people from Syria, Palestine and Lebanon. Running out of basic provisions and taking on water, they began sending out distress signals on 2 September, 2022. Those distress signals were immediately relayed to the Maltese authorities.
For days, the Maltese Authorities ignored the distress signals. They also ignored NGO calls for help. For days Loujin, her family, and their fellow travelers drifted in the eastern part of Malta’s search and rescue region (SAR). Commercial vessels passed within eyesight multiple times. The Maltese Authorities shamefully instructed none of them to intervene.
Malta Refugee Council Statement on World Refugee Day 2022
Malta in 2022 offers an extremely hostile environment to refugees reaching our shores. The Government refuses to explain why they are abandoned out at sea, either not rescued or not allowed to safely disembark. Hundreds are detained in squalid conditions and on dubious legal grounds in what international human rights bodies described as “institutional mass neglect”. New detention rules dramatically limit their possibility of receiving needed information and support. Measures adopted by the Government in eagerness to speed up an under-resourced asylum procedure limit the opportunity for persons to fully explain why they are in need of protection, whilst the care provided to the most vulnerable is – at most – basic. Dialogue between the Government and civil society, including refugee-led groups, has been effectively closed.
Never before has refugee protection been so challenging.
On World Refugee Day 2022 the Malta Refugee Council appeals to Malta to be place of shelter for those men, women and children forced to flee their homes. Whether fleeing the war in Ukraine, discriminatory laws in Nigeria or ethnic conflict in South Sudan, all refugees share the same need for safety, protection and dignity.