In the 1950s, the Malta Catholic Action founded the Malta Emigrants Commission to assist the Maltese who were seeking a new life away from our shores in other countries. The Maltese Migrants Centre operated from Palazzo Caraffa from 1963.
In 1971, Dar l-Emigrant was inaugurated. A year later, Malta accepted her first refugees upon the request of the UNHCR: 362 persons from Uganda. In 1987, the Commission became an official Operational Partner of the UNHCR.
Dar l-Emigrant has housed migrant and refugee services since. In the 1990s, various waves of migrants sought asylum in Malta: from Albania, ex-Yugoslavia, North and Sub-Saharan Africa. The Commission was crucial in offering aid and in some cases with helping in their relocation to other countries.
The Commission continues this work today through running 11 residences that welcome migrants, offering legal aid to asylum seekers, and social assistance to those most in need.
In 2021, the Commission was renamed Migrants Commission, and renewed its commitment to serving migrants. Through collaboration with state agencies and international and local NGOs, the Migrants Commission seeks to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate all migrants in Malta.
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Knowing the stories of migrants, helps us to understand their struggles, joys, hopes and dreams. Be open to share your story too.
Prejudice leads to suspicion; mutual suspicion leads to hate. Do take the risk to encounter and win over the fear that builds walls instead of bridges.
Listen to the other and put yourself in their shoes. Mutual listening allows us to be reconciled as a community of neighbours on this land.
We are on the same boat. It is in everyone's interest to share and exchange in solidarity and fraternity gifts and talents. Spaces of hospitality make everyone a protagonist responsible to give their best.
Sharing space, struggles and material goods is not just a strain; it is also an opportunity for better strategies for growth. Sharing is the opportunity to multiply—not divide—our resources.
We live today to build tomorrow. Only through cooperation can we build a common home that lasts, offering our children a truly better future.
Welcoming offers wider opportunities for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally. This calls for a concrete commitment to increase and simplify the process for granting humanitarian visas and for reunifying families.
We advocate for the prioritisation of personal safety over “national security”. Our services are geared toward offering migrants, asylum seekers and refugees a fair access to basic services.
The fundamental dignity of every human person needs to be respected. We strive to find alternative solutions to detention for those who enter a country without authorisation.
Protecting requires defending the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, independent of their legal status. Defending rights and dignity is an ongoing process to facilitate integration through justice and health care services, and fair access to work, education and housing that allow people to live independently.
It also seeks to eliminate all that hinders integration: illegal and abusive work practices, excessive bureaucracy, inhuman living conditions. All should be guaranteed a minimum basic income, and the opportunity to have a work permit.
Our economies are built on human ingenuity and skills. Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are a true resource for the communities that welcome them, when their true potential is duly recognised and valued.
Promoting implies safeguarding fundamental human rights as well as empowering migrants to achieve their full potential as human beings for the benefit of all.
It requires the promotion of social inclusion through language instruction and cultural programmes that promote active citizenship. It demands the removal of any barriers to health, education, and employment, because of prejudice, racism or xenophobia.
The family’s integrity must always be promoted by supporting family reunifications – including siblings, grandparents and other extended family – independent of financial constraints.
Integrating is about creating opportunities for intercultural enrichment. Neither ghettoization nor assimilation that suppresses cultural identity are desirable. We must build bridges, not walls. We must enrich our collective memory, not forget our different pasts.
Fostering a culture of encounter teaches us to be more open to the other. In a plural society, diversity is a richness not a threat. Creating opportunities for intercultural exchange eases the process of mutual learning in grassroot communities. An attitude of openness rather than fear, of respect rather than prejudice, will build communities that contribute to the well-being of all.
All this must start in schools, but also in parishes, communities and neighbourhoods. We have much that we already share. We have an exciting journey ahead of us to come to truly reflect the beauty of cultural and religious diversity in a new Malta.