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Fate of migrants found on farm still unknown

PM had sent they would be sent back to Italy

The cow shed used by a group of migrants remains locked after the Planning Authority sanctioned the building. Photo: Jonathan Borg

The cow shed used by a group of migrants remains locked after the Planning Authority sanctioned the building. Photo: Jonathan Borg

The fate of some 120 migrants found living on a cow farm in Qormi last month remains unknown, though the Prime Minister said they would be sent back to Italy immediately.

Speaking on One Radio, Dr Muscat said the government was working to send the group of immigrants back to Italy, noting that they had come here legally – having booked flights to the island in search of work.

The government was actively working on ensuring that the migrants, who claimed to be homeless, would return to Italy after the Planning Authority and the police evicted them.

Questions sent to the Office of the Prime Minister earlier this week, more than two weeks since Dr Muscat’s comments on the matter, remained unanswered at the time of writing. The government was asked whether the group had in fact been sent back to Italy and, if not, why and whether all of them had arrived from Italy to begin with.

Planning Authority officials who visited the farm, situated just off the Mrieħel bypass, found that the cow stalls had been illegally subdivided into partitions containing beds.

Open-air shower cubicles had also been installed.

The planning watchdog, which immediately sanctioned the farm, said at the time it would continue to monitor the site to ensure the place served its authorised use, and locked up the entrance.

During a visit to the site yesterday prompted by reports that people were again spotted frequenting the area, this newspaper saw sheets, mattresses and armchairs inside the farm’s boundaries. However, the area was still under lock and key.

Mattresses and garbage were visible near the farm.

With no alternative place to go, some of the migrants last month spent a number of nights sleeping under trees in the vicinity.

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