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Voice from the Field
Postcards from Migrants in Malta and Morocco
Greetings from migration limbo
September 8, 2010
As Europe steps up measures to curb migration, refugees and migrants are taking increasing risks to cross its borders. Escaping conflict, violence, or extreme deprivation, migrants are often exposed to horrific episodes of violence and exploitation on their journeys there. Many find themselves stranded in transit countries for long periods of time, unable either to continue their journey or to return home. For those who reach Europe, life is still hard, as they face detention, poor living conditions, and uncertainty about the future.
Through these postcards, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is sharing the stories of men and women who left their home countries in search of safety, peace, and decent living conditions.
Morocco is a transit country for asylum-seekers, migrants and refugees from sub-Saharan countries trying to reach Europe. Due to the increased border controls and the restrictive European Union migration and asylum policies, many migrants find themselves stranded in Morocco—at the doors of Europe—unable to continue their journeys. These migrants not only live in precarious conditions, but also feel increasingly hopeless and worried. Their irregular status increases their vulnerability, with women particularly affected.
MSF has been working in Morocco since 2000, providing medical and humanitarian assistance to sub-Saharan migrants and advocating for better access to healthcare and respect for their human dignity.
Malta’s location in the Mediterranean Sea has made it a common port of disembarkation for asylum-seekers, migrants and refugees setting off from the coast of Libya on their way to Europe. However, as a result of increased patrols in the Mediterranean, the number of migrants reaching Malta has dropped significantly. In 2008, 2,700 people landed on the island. This year, only 28 have made it to Malta’s shores. The small number of new arrivals hides the increasing suffering of those who embark on a dangerous journey only to be stopped short of their final destination. It also masks the plight of migrants who are already in Malta, stranded on an island where daily life is a struggle and prospects for the future are grim.
MSF began working in Malta in August 2008, when hundreds of newly arrived migrants were being locked up in detention centers where conditions were a serious threat to their health. MSF denounced these conditions and continued working on the island. Today, MSF provides psychological care to migrants and asylum seekers trying to overcome trauma, depression, and other mental health problems resulting from their previous experiences, current difficulties in Malta, and failed attempts to leave the island.