The Malta Independent 15 November 2018, Thursday

Home Opened for minor asylum seekers

Malta Independent Thursday, 27 January 2005, 00:00 Last update: about 5 years ago

Malta is duty bound to give the necessary care and protection to irregular immigrants in spite of the problems the country is facing, Family and Social Solidarity Minister Dolores Cristina insisted yesterday.

Speaking at the official inauguration of Dar is-Sliem in Birkirkara, a residential facility for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers, she announced that a working group had been set up with the purpose of drawing up a policy regarding unaccompanied minor asylum seekers.

She explained that in Malta, unaccompanied minors are placed under a care order (in conformity with the Refugee Act) and fall directly under the responsibility of the Family and Social Solidarity Ministry. United Nations conventions and EU practices state that the country concerned is obliged to assume the care and protection of persons who are under age.

She also pointed out that Malta has been granted Lm48,000 from the EU for refugee projects including Dar is-Sliem. The home managers had applied for EU Funds under the European Refugee Fund 1 in 2004. In view of this financial grant, a monitoring unit from the European Refugee Fund will be visiting Malta in February, she added.

“The diversity of cultures and beliefs under one roof is an enriching experience for both the residents and the staff working with them. Both contribute to each other’s growth and development,” Minister Cristina emphasised. Dar is-Sliem strikes a balance between nurturing the culture of these minors and educating them about Maltese culture within a European society.

Another home, Dar is-Sliem at Santa Venera, already provides services to minor asylum seekers. Prior to the setting up of these residences, minors had to be kept in the various detention centres.

Dar is-Sliem in Birkirkara started receiving its first residents at the beginning of last December. It presently houses 26 minors although it can take a maximum of 30 residents. Dar is-Sliem offers a holistic service to these minors by supporting them in health, education, life skills and possible reunification with relatives.

The press conference was unfortunately marred by an accident in which Fr Charles Vella, a Jesuit who was supposed to attend the inauguration, was run over just outside Dar is-Sliem.

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