The Malta Independent 25 June 2022, Saturday

UNHCR ‘saddened’ by tragic death of year old girl

Thursday, 25 January 2018, 18:16 Last update: about 5 years ago

The UNHCR, the UN refugee Agency, has said it was saddened by the news of the tragic death of an 7-year-old Malta-born child whose family found protection in Malta after fleeing Nigeria.

The girl was found dead at the Dominican residence in Zabbar on Sunday night, the government announced on Monday, the following Wednesday Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said a care order had been issued with regard to the girl's siblings.


He also revealed that the Nigerian community had spoken with the authorities and expressed concern regarding this family, and that they urged for a care order to be issued.

Sections of the media have  reported that the girl had been neglected and that she had not attended school for a few months.

"UNHCR urges mainstream services to provide sustainable, systematic and well-resourced support to vulnerable refugee families, particularly those living in open centres and in other affiliated accommodations, without distinction to nationality or status.

In particular, there needs to be a holistic approach and collaboration between government agencies supporting refugee children. The lack of such collaboration has grave repercussions on the child's safety, especially since refugee children are generally living in vulnerable situations.  It is in the best interest of the child to have the required safety structures provided by the State right from their arrival in Malta."

UNHCR noted that an inquiry has been set up to investigate the tragic death of the child and stands ready to provide assistance to the inquiry. "UNHCR hopes that the inquiry will lead to identifying gaps in the system that will need to be addressed in order to prevent similar tragedies in the future."


PN poses a number of questions to Government

In a statement, PN Secretary General Clyde Puli politicized the issue saying that the tragic "death of an innocent and vulnerable person" created a sense of sadness and raised a number of questions needed to answer.

The PN went on to list the following questions:

"-Why did the Government remain silent for 24 hours and fail to inform the public properly?

-Why did the government try to give the impression that the child was under the responsibility of the Dominican Sisters of Zabbar when in reality she was under the care of the government agency, Appogg?

-Is it true that the girl did not receive the necessary care in time, when she was suffering from acute and chronic conditions?

- Is it true that the girl was not provided with assistance as according to the advice care workers gave before?

-What is the truth: did the girl die in her residence or did she die in the ambulance?

- Who will bear responsibility for what happened?"

"The news continues to show how the field of care and assistance is important for our society, and the Nationalist Party is taking this opportunity to urge the government to find an agreement with care professionals, especially with the Foundation for Social Welfare Service," the statement continued.


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