Challenges faced by migrants would transform into opportunities if barriers were addressed, the President urged this afternoon.

She was speaking at the launch of a set of recommendations for better integration, and a collection of migrant experiences. The latter were gathered as part of a project by Cross Cultural International Foundation (Malta).

 “It has been proven that migrants have a positive fiscal net contribution if they are promptly included in society, especially within the education and labour market.

“Failure to maximise the potential of migrants represents a massive waste of resources for the migrants involved and society in general,” President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca reiterated.

Chair Alec Douglas said the EU-funded project, spread over two years in nine countries, opened the foundation’s eyes to the continuous changes in Europe, the need for intercultural dialogue and the protection of children, especially in places hosting internal migration.

His colleague and project leader Hedwig Bvumburah noted that migrants were sometimes reluctant to discuss migration as they believed that the EU was all talk but no action.

She urged the President to pass on the recommendations to the authorities, as allowing migrants’ voice to be heard could lead to concrete action.

Addressing the same conference, head of Meusec Vanni Xuereb noted that such projects were restoring faith and giving a new purpose to the EU project.

In her address, President Coleiro Preca noted that the stories collected by the foundation were stories she unfortunately heard often during regular round tables with stakeholders.

“European societies are becoming increasingly diverse and Malta is no exception. The phenomenon of migration has become a major feature with effects across the globe,” she said.

Within this scenario, it was essential to promote dialogue between different cultures and faiths. It was also important to continue creating respectful and safe spaces where third country nationals could express themselves freely.

Referring to European figures on integration issued last year, she said third country nationals continued to fare far worse than European nationals within the employment and education sectors.

“At a time when prejudice is increasing across the world, we need to create more inclusive societies. We will make our region more prosperous and peaceful in the long run if we invest our resources and energy in policies for inclusion.”

Some migrants from the audience expressed disappointment that they have been in Malta even up to 11 years, and yet, were still finding it difficult to acquire stable residency and permanent documents. The rejected asylum document, which they had to renew every three months, made it difficult for them to secure a stable job, they noted.

Pointing out that it was not in her remit to comment on individual issues, President Coleiro Preca said  Malta had come quite a long way on the issue of migration, including detention.

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