Lost in migration - Mélanie Wenger
Lost in migration
" Lost in migration" is about African and Middle eastern migrants crossing the Mediterranean sea and landing by mistake in Malta.This little island of 400 000 inhabitants with a very strong migration policy. It is the story of men and women who suffer from the aftermaths of the most dangerous trip of the planet.
Malta has been saving and welcoming the new boat people for a decade now. And its asylum seekers policy is far from the italian one. All the 15 000 migrants faced a mandatory detention at their arrival since 2004. Detention time can last until 18 months. Unlike the regulations, in practice, Malta rejects 43% of the applicants, there is no rapatriation for most of them possible, as there is no diplomatic relations with most of the countries they come from.
As papers, they offer 43% of them a subsidiary protection, for one year, renewable that allows them to work without getting any health protection. Only 12% of migrants, mostly somalis and erithrean, are getting humanitarian protection and so papers.
« When you see the maltese $ag on the rescuing boat, you know you arrived in hell », explained Mamadou*, a migrant settled in Belgium. « Lost in migration » is about many losses. Today, the conditions of detention, the trauma lived at sea, the terrible conditions of life even in open centers, the separation from their loved ones, the loss of identity, culture and traditional way of life are so many factors of the mental health problems 80% of the migrants are facing in Malta.
As they are few returns organised y the maltese government, most of them wander around the island, in open centers. Waiting, but for what ? The only last chance remaining are the «voluntary returns » system that only around 60 accept each year. After such a perilous adventure, no one wants to get the shame of going home.

* Names have been changed for protection.

Mélanie Wenger / Cosmos