Parishes to host first refugee families
Nine refugee families will soon become the first to be housed in Maltese parishes as Church institutions finalise the logistical arrangements.
Three parishes in Malta are refurbishing a vacant parish property to host a refugee family each.
Another two Maltese parishes have committed themselves to financing the housing and upkeep of another two families through their resources as well as church collections.
Two religious orders will also take a further two families, while the Church in Gozo will make available two apartments.
The preparations are being co-ordinated by the Emigrants’ Commission of the Archdiocese of Malta.
Archbishop Charles Scicluna tasked the commission with the assignment following the Pope’s call on September 6 that “every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, take in one family”.
The Emigrants’ Commission has assisted more than 20,000 migrants since 1972, when a group of Ugandan refugees arrived in Malta.
Currently it accommodates 400 migrants in 14 residences spread in seven localities.
The Church is hoping that the grassroots action counteracts prejudices and fears when promoting integration of migrants.
Żebbug parish priest Fr Daniel Cardona said he still encountered people who were apprehensive about refugee families living in their communities.
“In Żebbug we have more than 20 households with refugee families and they’re welcomed by most people. But I’m sorry to say that whenever integration is brought up, I still feel this is met with a sense of fear.
“I’ve also noted that Syrians are more readily accepted
“Maybe it’s because their skin colour is similar to ours and, if that’s the case, it’s very worrying.
“As a parish, we will do whatever we can to help and I will continue to work hard to eradicate this mentality.”
Sources said more parishes and Church institutions were also working on plans to support the hosting of refugees.
Local councillors from the three political parties have also teamed up with SOS Malta to support refugees coming to Europe.