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MARCH 2012 - ISSUE 008 - UNBIASED NEWSPAPER FOR LOCALS, TOURISTS AND EXPATS FREE MALTA NOW NO PLACE LIKE HOME! Malta Carnival p. 7 Melissa Portelli p. 14 Latest Phone App p. 5 Malta Marathon p. 16 Away from the glitz of the tourist resorts, tucked away on the south coast of Malta, are the refugee camps that house migrants from Africa. The men and women who live in the camps are constantly reminded that there is no space for them on the island. Malta is a reluctant host to many thousands of destitute migrants from Africa, none of whom set out from their home countries with Malta in their sights. Each summer brings another wave of arrivals. Many come from Eritrea. Others come from Ethiopia or Somalia. For all these refugees, the epic journey from desperate poverty in Africa to a Maltese detention centre is harrowing and dangerous. According to Maltese law, detention is automatic and mandatory for all irregular migrants, including asylum Refugee camps that house migrants from Africa. Many of the refugees are living in tents in “tent cities”. seekers. So, before they are released into an open centre like the one in Marsa or Hal Far, refugees have to be kept behind bars for a maximum of one year. After their period in detention, those who cannot be sent back are housed in refugee camps there are two on the site of the former Hal Far airport which was previously used by the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF). On one side of the airfield is the Hal Far Tent Village, where up to 25 people live per tent. On the other side of the airfield, up to 16 men live in shipping containers converted into bedrooms. The summer hot sun makes for uncomfortable conditions inside these containers, even now conditions can be grave. Families are housed in tents pitched inside a disused aircraft hangar. The tents, carrying the logo of the Swiss Red Cross, are laid out in three rows of 10 tents each. The conflict in Libya last year led to a significant increase in the number of immigrants arriving in Malta. Previously the country used to deal with 1,700 per year. The government says there is no chance that it will alter its policy of mandatory detention, despite criticism of the policy by NGOs. African refugees come first to escape the dangers of their countries of origin, mostly Somalia, but also Eritrea, Sudan and Nigeria. Their stay, however, in most cases is permanent. Continued on page 6 FOR THE CHANCE TO WIN A MEAL FOR 2, TURN TO PAGE 13 FOR DETAILS... PORTOMASO Tel: +(356)21389290

Malta Now issue 08

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