20 JUNE 2022

Malta should be a Place of Shelter

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.

Safety, for refugees as for all of us, requires us to ensure no lives are lost or harmed in fleeing and seeking protection. It means ensuring we rescue people in distress at sea and bring them to land as soon as possible. Importantly, it requires us to stop pushing refugees back to countries where we know they will surely face the most horrific violations.

Protection, for refugees as for all of us, means living conditions that do not expose people to violence, threats, abuse, insults or any form or dehumanising treatment. It means ensuring that everyone is offered the full opportunity to explain their personal story, with the necessary support. Essentially, it means that refugees are all equally able to receive documents confirming their status and to approach procedures, systems and entities that provides support and services. To protect the most vulnerable we must firstly be able to see them and then to understand their individual needs so that appropriate care and healing may be provided. 

Dignity, for refugees as for all of us, requires each of us to see ourselves in refugees. To treat refugees with dignity is to appreciate their individual human experiences and provide them with the space and opportunity to regain control over their own lives. It means rethinking our relationship with refugees from one that ‘manages migration and asylum’ to one that ‘supports individual empowerment and growth.’ For refugees as for all of us, a dignified treatment is what we would choose for ourselves.

On World Refugee Day 2022, the Malta Refugee Council appeals to Malta to be place of shelter. We invite the Government to reopen open and honest dialogue on the laws, policies and practices established to ‘manage migration and asylum’ so as to ensure they secure real safety, protection and dignity, while promoting effective integration, for all refugees.


Established with the kind support of the Dutch Refugee Council