Surveys conducted separately by SOS Malta and the UNHCR (Malta Office) have confirmed the absence of integration between the Maltese and the immigrant community, with language - as well as perceptions - being the biggest barriers.
A seminar held by the two organisations this morning to discuss the findings showed that migrants feel they were being discriminated upon by the Maltese.
Migrants who were questioned by the two NGOS said they wished to have access to education, particularly to learn Maltese or English.
All Maltese and migrants who were questioned said they were not involved in multicultural events.
The migrants said they were discriminated at their place of work, where they were offered jobs which the Maltese did not want, but paid less than what would be ordinarily paid for such jobs.
Several migrants said some Maltese did not allow them to sit near them on the buses. Others showed their displeasure when they moved into their neighbourhood.
A frequent complaint by the migrants was that they could not follow educational courses because they needed to work in order to maintain themselves.
The migrants said they had little or no contact with the Maltese, however they noted that the Maltese made a distinction between migrants who were granted humanitarian protection, and others who were seen as being economic migrants.
Some 1,000 migrants are estimated to be living in Maltese towns and villages, with another 2,500 in open and closed centres. Migrants in employment work mostly in the construction industry, in the case of men, and hotel housekeeping in the case of women.
Most migrants said they would like to leave Malta because they felt unwanted, or because they wished to be reunited with their families .
A 37-year-old man from Ghana, Mohammed Mozzammil, said he arrived on a boat in May 2006 with group of 24 and was detailed at Safi for 18 months before being released. He moved in with a friend and started attending courses to help him integrate, but he had to give up because he needed to work to be self-sufficient.
He said he was happy to, finally, be living free as a human being. He used to think of the Maltese as being rude, he admitted, but now he realised that most did not know what they were doing, in that they did not know anything about migration.
During the event, organisers complained that although the purpose of the seminar was integration, no representative of any local council had attended, despite being invited.
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