‘Unprotected Families’ Joint Statement for World Refugee Day 2015

As refugees flee their homes, escaping persecution or war, they are often forced to leave behind their husbands, wives, children, parents or loved ones. Along the route, searching for safety, refugee families face severe difficulties in ensuring shelter and basic livelihood, particularly for young children and other vulnerable persons.

Very often, families are torn apart following flight, dispersed in refugee camps, cities or other transit points. Some persons are simply unable to continue the escape, succumbing to armed groups, illness, lack of nutrition, severe climatic conditions. Family members reuniting with their loved ones in a country offering refuge struggle to be recognized as persons also requiring protection and safety.

Today, in commemoration of World Refugee Day, we recall the impact of the refugee plight on those family members left behind, those dispersed along the way and those eventually reuniting in safety. In this regard we acknowledge that family is the cornerstone of society, a value that is highly cherished and protected in Malta. We therefore express our solidarity with all those refugees whose family experiences are reduced to hurried calls, who are lamenting the loss of their loved ones, or who are striving to start a new life with their families, also here in Malta.

The protection of refugees should mean protection also of their family members, especially for those who remain living in peril. We therefore invite Malta to explore the possibility of extending family reunification to beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, thereby discouraging family members to avoid resorting to dangerous and illegal routes to joining their loves ones. We also strongly urge Malta to consider the situation of family members reuniting in this country, by securing their legal status and documentation that guarantee real protection.

The world we live in today has more people displaced by conflict than at any time since the Second World War. World Refugee Day is an opportunity to highlight the impact of war on families and place individual refugee family stories at the centre of our attention.

This year we have teamed up with Valletta Film Festival and the Film Grain Foundation to commemorate World Refugee Day in Malta also through the medium of film. The powerful documentary ‘Born in Gaza’ will screen in Valletta on 20, 21 and 23 June (St James Cavalier and the Embassy Complex).

Filmgrain Foundation: “We are honored to have teamed up with UNHCR and the local human rights NGOs to commemorate World Refugee Day. Film Grain Foundation strongly believes in the power of Cinema to raise awareness about the world’s many realities. Hernan Zin’s film Born in Gaza is gripping and necessary reminder of one of the main causes for forced migration: War, told by the uncorrupted voices of Palestinian children.”

Statement by:
aditus foundation, Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants, Integration Foundation, JRS Malta, KOPIN, Organisation for Friendship in Diversity, People for Change Foundation, UNHCR Malta.

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