13 July 2016 – Earlier this month JRS Malta together with Aditus Foundation, Integra Foundation and the Malta Emigrants’ Commission held a press conference in Valletta to launch the ‘Journeys of Hope’ report and call on the Maltese government to give refugees safe and legal access to protection.
At the press conference, the organisations stated: “Providing safe and legal ways to reach a place of safety is the most effective way to prevent refugees from resorting to unsafe and irregular means of travel to access Europe, thereby saving lives. We feel there is much Malta can do to advocate for such means at EU level, including urging a more meaningful resettlement commitment and encouraging a broader and more proactive use of humanitarian visas.”
To highlight the urgency of this call, ‘Journeys of Hope’ the recent publication of JRS Europe was presented which contains stories of refugees on the road to Europe from January to March this year. The stories gathered here provide a stark reminder of the difficulties refugees face as they are repeatedly denied access to their most basic fundamental human rights.
Speaking at the conference, the author, Danielle Vella, who travelled with the refugees through the Balkans listening to their stories said:
"I was impressed how incredibly patient they were with me, to help me understand the terrible places they were coming from, the very difficult journeys that they had, and where they wanted to go.
The first thing I took away was the pain caused by the separation of the families on the routes. That parents were doing this for their children, I have no doubt, but the journeys they are forced to take on these very dangerous paths – because they have no other channels to seek access to the protection that they really need – the dangers of the journey often meant that their bid to save their families, led to loss instead.
I’ll never forget a man from Afghanistan I met, who showed me the photo of his family. It was a photo no bigger than the palm of his hand. They were a family of seven that started the journey from Afghanistan. I met two: him and his ten-year-old son. The rest were lost along the way.”
We feel there is much Malta can do to advocate for such means at EU level, including urging a more meaningful resettlement commitment and encouraging a broader and more proactive use of humanitarian visas.