Plans to relocate migrants from Marsa open centre to Ħal Far have been put on hold, following complaints by Birżebbuġa residents that they were being scapegoated by the initiative. 

In a statement issued this morning, the government announced that it was slamming the brakes on the plan until "a more equitable solution" which did not affect just one community was found. It however reiterated its electoral committment to close the Marsa centre. 

Earlier this morning, Nationalist Party MP Hermann Schiavone said that he had written to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat urging him to reconsider the relocation plans.

READ: Marsa open centre will soon close 

In the letter, the fifth district MP called on Dr Muscat to apply burden sharing principles he preached to the EU right here in Malta and ensure migrants are not all lumped together in one area, a Nationalist Party MP has argued. 

"I understand that irregular migration is a challenge and I don't want to turn the matter into a political football...after all these are people just like us," Dr Schiavone wrote, before going on to argue that it was not right "that this burden falls solely on the people of the fifth district, just as I do not feel it should be borne only by the people of Marsa." 

Dr Schiavone subsequently published his letter to Dr Muscat on his personal Facebook page. 

The Labour government promised to shut down Marsa's open centre in its electoral manifesto, and last week sources told the Times of Malta that the closure was imminent

Tensions in the area are running high after Marsa and Ħamrun's mayors both called for the government to step up the fight against "lawlessness" in the towns. 

Following those calls, police officers swooped in and conducted a high-profile raid of the Marsa area, opening them up to accusations of racial profiling

Residents will be holding a 'solidarity walk' pressuring the government to take action and to “give Marsa residents their dignity back” this coming Sunday. 


Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us