Some of the migrants evicted from the Ħal Far open centre at the end of June have been offered a camp bed at a makeshift shelter in Marsa.

Consisting of rows of beds under a marquee, the shelter was set up in a football pitch, asylum seekers said, adding that the tented structure was set up by the government’s Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers. 

Speaking to Times of Malta at Valletta’s gates, which for the past few days has served as sleeping grounds for some of the evicted migrants, Shiden and John said some of them had not even had their protection application decided upon.

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

This means they have no status and no form of identification that would allow them to secure employment or housing.

“We are no one. Without a status we are nothing. We are begging the authorities to let us know of the decision about our application for asylum,” Shiden said outside the gates of Valletta, where several are still sleeping rough.

His friend John said the uncertainty was weighing down on their mental well-being.

The two arrived in Malta on June 5, 2019. On that day – one of the busiest days for migrant arrivals in recent history – more than 370 disembarked after being rescued at sea by the armed forces.

The two Eritrean men, both in their 20s, formed part of a group who were taken in to the Ħal Far centre in September.

They were told they would be allowed accommodation for a year and during that period they were meant to secure an independent means of living.

Covid-19 struck six months into their stay

However, COVID-19 struck less than six months later and they were put under lockdown for several weeks. Then, last month – just nine months into their stay at the open centre – they were evicted to make space for new arrivals, they said.

Times of Malta has been told that with the number of migrant arrivals on the increase, space at the centres is running out. Several of the evicted ones are still sleeping on the streets in Valletta and other places, they added.

The two young men left their homeland years ago, fleeing inhumane treatment at each country they passed through.

After serving in the ‘national service’, which conscripts young Eritreans for an unlimited period, John left for Sudan, where he was robbed of all his possessions.

Some migrants are still sleeping in Valletta. Photo: Matthew MirabelliSome migrants are still sleeping in Valletta. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

'Used as currency by smugglers'

From there, he was smuggled into Libya, where, like Shiden, he was used as ‘currency’ by human traffickers.

“Smugglers would collect ransom from our families, who would sell all their assets and land in Eritrea to pay for our release,” John recalled.

But instead of releasing them, they would ‘sell’ them to another trafficker. The cycle continued until they managed to flee Libya.

“Malta welcomed those of us who survived the trip and we are grateful for all that the country has done for us… until now,” John said.

AWAS and the Home Affairs Ministry have not replied to questions sent on Wednesday.

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.