A Somali mother, 25, who gave birth while on an immigrant boat last November, is leaving for France today with her baby Muna who remains without a birth certificate despite ongoing efforts to register her by the Emigrants Commission.

Mother and child are leaving for France with about 90 other migrants who enjoy international protection, as part of a responsibility sharing initiative between the French and Maltese authorities.

"If we don't register her, no one else will," Mgr Philip Calleja, from the commission, told The Times, after explaining that despite correspondence with the authorities, the child's birth has so far remained unacknowledged.

The eight-month-old baby was born on a boat carrying 70 other migrants who were rescued by a Russian ship, Yelena Shatrova, before being brought to Malta in November.

The ship delayed its entry to Malta for five days because of rough weather.

"I lost a lot of blood on the boat. I was under a lot of stress and I gave birth early. I thought the baby was going to die," Chama Hatra said.

But she was looking ahead and she was all smiles yesterday, elated that she was going to France with her child.

Ms Hatra left Somalia in March 2008 when she got pregnant and passed through Ethiopia, Sudan and finally Libya before winding up in Malta.

She has three other children in Somalia who live with their father and her mother. She hopes the family can eventually be reunited but for now her priority is to start a new life in France and give her youngest a chance to have a good life away from the war in Somalia.

Ms Hatra and Muna will join 74 adults, five children and 13 infants from Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Ivory Coast and Sri Lanka, who will be resettled in three northern towns in France.

They will reside in reception centres for a maximum of six months, where they will be given support for housing, food and clothing, besides referral to medical care and treatment, employment services and other forms of assistance during the transition period to self-sufficiency.

The French Office Immigration and Integration will be responsible for assisting refugees with the process of integration in France, through language and cultural orientation training.

cperegin@timesofmalta.com

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