As a frontline humanitarian NGO, Mission Lifeline is regularly exposed to victims of appalling human rights violations during our work, but we also witness resulting feats of incredible human resilience. However, every last one of us has a physical, mental and emotional breaking point, particularly following the extreme trauma typically found amongst those who’ve passed through Libya’s abusive detention system.
The events which unfolded in Hal Far Tent Village on Sunday night were the product of months of anxiety, inhumane treatment, degrading conditions and a lack of access to basic support structures. The cumulative effect of failed European solidarity, and by extension, Malta’s national reception capacity, is enough to take a damaging toll on even the most robust of us. It is crucial that we all remember this context and frame Sunday’s unfortunate escalation through a balanced and understanding light. We stand with the migrant community in Hal Far who will now be left without access to basic provisions such as food, water and documents, tantamount to collective punishment for the frustrated and human actions of a few. We stand with the distressed staff of AWAS and local residents who are also directly victims of the above policy failures. We understand that violence is never the answer and condemn the full spectrum of violence- physical, emotional and structural- which led to this inevitable conclusion.
We urge everyone to resist and report hate speech, flowing with impunity in a rapidly degrading public discourse. We call on civil society and the media, as Malta’s widest-reaching institutions, to step up and protect the dignity of vulnerable communities from resulting knee-jerk politics. A lot of work has been done to challenge the unlawful detention of migrants in Malta and it is crucial that we avoid a return to racist policies of old. We will continue to support HFO in assisting the affected Hal Far migrant community until the competent authorities make themselves available.