The Malta Independent 27 February 2021, Saturday

Indepth: No point having integration programmes if they lack funding or will – Ahmed Bugre

INDEPTH online Thursday, 31 October 2019, 15:00 Last update: about 2 years ago

There is no point in having integration programmes if they do not have funding or the will to go through with them, Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants (FSM) Director Ahmed Bugre said.

In the second episode of the season of Indepth, Deputy Editor-in-Chief Neil Camilleri welcomed Dr Ahmed Bugre – founder of FSM who is also involved with the Third Country National Network, an umbrella organization representing around 15 different migrant communities and groups.

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Throughout the programme, they touched on issues such as integration, hate speech, and the various migrant centers in Malta.

When queried on the issues and methods of integration, Bugre rhetorically asked whether the Maltese people “want African migrants to integrate, or to be included”.

“Look at our national system - how many migrants, how many African migrants are involved in it? They are excluded.”

He lamented that Malta’s national programs don’t include migrants, and that the only place they are included is in the labour force because it is needed.

“You can never fully become a Maltese person in terms of how you integrate, but what is integration?

“Integration is building friendships, embedding yourself in your community and being productive which comes by learning how people live, but it is not only the migrants who have to do that but also the Maltese have to reach out and understand where the other people are coming from.”

“Integration is a two-way street - one cannot integrate unless he is wanted,” Bugre insisted, going on to criticize the local system as one that is built to “make people move on”.

 

“The question is whether the onus is on the migrant to integrate, or on Maltese society itself to reach out.”

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Give the refugees a vote, and integration will change because it will empower them to be included in society, Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants (FSM) Director Ahmed Bugre said.

In the second episode of Indepth, Deputy Editor-in-Chief Neil Camilleri welcomed Dr Ahmed Bugre - founder of FSM who is also involved with the Third Country National Network, an umbrella organization representing around 15 different migrant communities and groups.

Throughout the programme, they touched on issues such as integration, hate speech, and the recent incidents at migrant centres in Malta.

Bugre pointed out that "all the asylum seekers and refugees who have been given protection in this country cannot vote, not even at the local level. They are living within communities, working, paying taxes, contributing and yet they cannot even choose their local councillor."

He accused governments of excluding them, and insisted that if there was no civil participation then they will never be able to integrate.

"How many Africans have you seen stand for elections? This is because they feel like they would be laughed at. That is what politicians know. All the Africans, refugees and whoever is here - at the end of the day they can protest, but they can never vote. And that is why people are emboldened to go onto social media and spew hate and nobody will prosecute them - because they have a vote."

Bugre maintained that he doesn't agree with the notion that refugees and migrants do not want to integrate because of cultural differences - "it is an excuse," he insisted - noting that people must be accepted for who they are if they are to integrate.

"Include me in civic participation and don't just use me as a worker and pay me fewer wages and not give me rights."

 


 

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