The Malta Independent 12 November 2019, Tuesday

University faculty expresses concern over ‘punishing those who are simply seeking to escape hell'

Tuesday, 22 October 2019, 17:55 Last update: about 20 days ago
University of Malta
University of Malta

The Faculty of Education is perturbed by the news of violence at Hal Far open Centre, it said in a statement, putting forward recommendations to try and push integration forward.

"We univocally condemn any violence but we equally call on the authorities to reflect on the reasons that lead to such behaviours. The Hal Far incidents call for people in authority to reflect on the policies the country adopts in relation to migration, including its integration strategies. Ghettoing people in a particular locality, leaving them in a state of uncertainty, and de facto punishing those who are simply seeking to escape hell or seek a decent life is leading to anger and frustration, which may unfortunately lead to violence. In this regard we express our sympathy with all victims, whichever side of the barbed wire they find themselves in."

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 The Faculty said that it is "high time for all the institutions in Malta to assume responsibility and engage in serious reflection on how to address such situations in the immediate and long term; that confront seriously the concerns of immigrants in Malta, as well as put forward on the international agenda solutions that aim to tackle the problem at source or nearer to its source."

The incidents at Hal Far are an eye-opener for everyone, the faculty said in a statement, "and call for a more thorough, humane and rational response. As the Faculty of Education, we are appealing to the authorities and others, to engage in constructive and inclusive practices that ultimately benefit both immigrants and locals, and not to allow ourselves to fall into reactionary rhetoric and practices. As educators, we recognise that diversity is strength but at the same time, acknowledge that for diversity to emerge as strength and a resource it needs infrastructures that facilitate integration and inclusivity. Currently, such infrastructures are for the most part lacking."

 Around the island, there are various examples of good practice, where migrant communities are living in harmony with the local communities, becoming part of these communities and contributing to the wellbeing of each other, the statement read. "These practices offer a paradigm of inclusion and social wellbeing."

"Our Faculty is willing to offer its expertise and services, and to collaborate with the relevant entities and NGOs, to help create spaces where dialogue can take place. This is urgently required. One feature which we believe is seriously lacking in the way in which the general public reacted to the incident is, apart from a disturbing lack of humanity and compassion in relation to the reactions suggested, there is complete lack of empathy with African immigrants, reflecting total ignorance regarding the causes which induce them to undertake the voyages of death. If immigrants had to be perceived as primarily victims of injustice, rather than unwanted burdens, humanity and rationality might prevail over hate."

"We believe that education ought not to be limited to the perimeters of schools, but be a means through which democratic values and social wellbeing are attained in all sectors in society."

 "We also encourage the authorities to work within the EU framework and other international fora so that the issue of migration, which is largely the result of past and present uneven economic, political and cultural exchanges, is effectively dealt with in a just and meaning manner for all involved."


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