Over the past six weeks on Gozo, I’ve grown increasingly aware of the frequent boats of African migrants who wash up on (or, sadly, capsize near) Malta’s shores. There’s about 1800 year. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but as this MSNBC article describes (thanks to Armando for sending it along), Malta has a tiny population to begin with:
Malta’s annual intake of about 1,800 migrants is small when compared to the 37,000 “boat people” disgorged in southern Spain, mostly via the Canary Islands, and the 22,000 who washed up in Italy last year.
But, given the country’s population of 400,000, roughly the same as Omaha, Neb., “every migrant that lands in Malta is like 200 landing in Spain,” Lt. Col. Mallia said.
The piece offers a pretty grim picture of internment camps closed to the media, exploited labourers and restrictions on travel even after the migrants win their landed immigrant status.
I haven’t been reading the local papers cover to cover, but I haven’t seen much coverage of the so-called “closed detention centers”. I guess I have to look harder.