Video: Jesuit Refugee Service Malta: Spirit of Accompaniment

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Asylum seekers testify to life in Libya

Jesuit Refugee Service Malta released the following statement to mark International Migrants Day Dec. 18:

“Does the international community know about this, what is happening here? This is what we used to ask each other when we were in prison in Libya.” – Asad, an asylum seeker in Malta

Since May 2009, some 1409 migrants, attempting to reach a place where they could obtain protection or the possibility to live in safety and dignity, were pushed back to Libya.

These actions were widely criticized and held by many to be a violation of international law, as Libya does not have the mechanisms in place to grant protection to those who need it and there is evidence that those returned would be at risk of harm.

“International Migrants Day is a good time to ask ourselves whether we are fully aware of the possible consequences of these actions for the people concerned. We believe that many who see this as a quick solution to the pressures that Malta is facing would think differently if they knew about the treatment that migrants face there,” said JRS Malta Director, Fr. Joseph Cassar, S.J.
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JRS speaker discusses human rights and Catholic social teaching

Acclaimed refugee rights activist Katrine Camilleri, Ph.D., assistant director of Jesuit Refugee Service in Malta, visited Loyola University New Orleans on Tuesday, Nov. 17, to deliver the last lecture of the People on the Move conference. Her talk, “Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Human Rights and Catholic Social Teaching.”

Camilleri is the 2007 recipient of the U.N. Refugee Agency’s Nansen Refugee Award, which is given to individuals or organizations that have distinguished themselves in work on behalf of refugees. Camilleri’s recent work has focused on helping refugees and asylum seekers who are detained in Malta. Despite threats and arson attacks on her home and vehicle, Camilleri has been successful in influencing government policy and continues to be at the forefront of the battle to improve conditions in detention centers in Malta.
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Malta faces increase in immigrant landings

The BBC reports from Malta about the increasing surge in immigrants landing on the Mediterranean island.

“The boat was very small, the water easily gets in the boat, and the boat is leaking even before you get in the boat.”

A quietly spoken 24-year-old Ethiopian man sits in the spartan office of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Malta. He is typical of the thousands of African men, women and children who risk a perilous sea crossing on the Mediterranean hoping for a new life in Europe.

What began as a trickle – six years ago, 500 were rescued by the Maltese – now feels to islanders like a flood. In the 12 months to March, some 3,400 arrived.

Read the full story here.

Immigration highlights Malta conference

The Times of Malta newspaper reports that during a conference marking five years since Malta joined the European Union, the topic of immigration was at the forefront.

The forced return of migrants was described as a “loss for humanity” in a statement issued by the Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Malta, Fr. Joseph Cassar.

“Forcibly returning people to a country where they may face ill-treatment and be pushed back into the arms of their persecutors, without an assessment of their need for protection, violates international law,” he said.
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