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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Immigrant frustration

Daniel Sandford filed this report for BBC news about the issue of illegal immigration in Malta:

As you walk the historic streets of the Maltese capital Valletta, there is little sign of the turmoil on the Mediterranean islands. Tourists mingle with shoppers in the ancient streets laid out in an unusual grid pattern. In the centre of the tiny city is the building that houses the Malta Emigrants Commission. From these offices, generations of Maltese migrants prepared to leave and start new lives overseas. But the main corridor is now packed with young Africans - men, women and children. These are not people who are about to leave Malta, they have just arrived. It is the first sign that everything is changing..

..The government is asking if some other EU countries cannot help by taking some of the asylum-seekers. Just a few hundred less would make an enormous difference. They are running out of places to house them. The new arrivals are having a disturbing affect on Maltese politics. While we were there, a new far-right party, the Alleanza Nazionali Republikana, staged the first anti-immigrant rally..

..They also say something very unusual for immigrants. They all want to leave. They came to Malta by mistake. They were crossing the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy. Thousands make the journey each year in tiny boats. Many die, but some end up in Malta after running out of fuel, or losing their way...

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