Refugee field offices finally get their ACs
By a “mini-miracle”, the offices where asylum seekers are interviewed now enjoy the luxury of air-conditioners and are no longer like mini-ovens.
Two weeks ago, workers at the Refugee Commissioner’s office complained about the lack of air conditioning units at their mobile offices at the Safi detention centre, in a report carried in The Times.
And the units have now just been installed.
But Refugee Commissioner Mario Friggieri insists the decision was not a result of the complaints that were published in The Times but of a report he had lodged with the Home Affairs Ministry several weeks ago.
“Although this may look like a reaction to what was published, I had in fact taken immediate action on a complaint I received two months ago from one of the employees,” he said.
Admitting his “hurt” at the complaints, Mr Friggieri showed this newspaper an e-mail he sent to the ministry at 11 p.m. after he received an e-mail an hour earlier from an employee.
“With the way government tendering process works it is almost a mini miracle the air conditioning units were installed only two months later,” Mr Friggieri said, adding the workers who complained to The Times knew action was being taken to alleviate the burden.
When the story appeared a Home Affairs Ministry spokesman at the Prime Minister’s Office said the air conditioning units were going to be installed but did not say when.
Another complaint was about the state of the main office at Fort St Elmo, which included dust from restoration works and the absence of enough toilets.
The office is now in the process of moving out of the fort into new premises at Msida. The move was always on the books, Mr Friggieri said. It was just a question of finding an alternative place and the workers knew this as well.
“I have always been flexible and went out of my way to accommodate my staff. It hurts when I see such complaints because they ignored the reality of the situation,” Mr Friggieri said, adding that what happened was a result of “immature behaviour”.