Life as he knows it might end this November for a 32-year-old businessman who has been living in Malta for nearly half his life.

The government’s decision to halt his protection in 10 months feels like a death sentence for Ali Konate from Mali. Mr Konate arrived in Malta in 2002 and has since settled down and started a business of his own. But just as he was starting to see his life getting better, he suddenly saw it collapse.

The Temporary Humanitarian Protection – New status for rejected asylum seekers, known as THPn, will be halted as from this November. Those who wish to remain in Malta need to procure documentation from their country of origin that could allow them to apply for a residence permit.

Once Mr Konate’s protection is halted, so will his business be. Without any form of documentation, he will not be able to sell any of his possessions in order to survive, he said. “It would kill me. I would be walking dead,” he told this newspaper.

The young man is not even sure he will be deported, as his country of origin cannot prove he is from Mali. “What counts as proof for them? Because I speak the language? Today I speak Maltese – why isn’t Malta accepting me as a Maltese?”

Mr Konate was speaking to the Times of Malta following a meeting with President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, who pledged her solidarity. Ms Coleiro Preca insisted that treating each other with dignity was the only viable way forward to a sustainable and peaceful world.

“Social justice and solidarity applied to this particular case dictates that retention replaces detention, that our sisters and brothers continue to live and work productively as they have been doing, some of them for a good number of years,” she said.

She added: “I cannot reassure you of anything, but what I can assure you is that my solidarity and support will be completely there, now and in the future.”

Earlier on she was asked to intervene for the release of the nine Malian men who have been in detention for more than two months as the government awaits documents to allow for their deportation.

The group also called on the President to ask the authorities to allow migrants with THPn status to continue enjoying their limited benefits.

Speaking on their behalf, Head of the Department for Inclusion and Access to Learning Colin Calleja insisted that it was an almost impossible feat for undocumented migrants to procure a passport from their country of origin.

A walk of solidarity with migrants, in particular those with THPn, is being held by a group of concerned citizens tomorrow. The silent walk will start at 5pm from next to the Love monument in St Julian’s and proceed to Balluta Bay.

Assistant Lecturer at the University of Malta Francois Mifsud, from the Department for Inclusion and Access to Learning within the Faculty of Education, which kicked off the initiative, spoke to www.timesofmalta.com about the appeal that is being made to the authorities. The threat of deportation is detrimental not only for the migrants themselves, but also the local economy and society, he says.

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