Archbishop Paul Cremona on the 6th of  January 2010 received the team of Jesuit Refugee Service Malta at his residence in Attard. They discussed with him the causes of forced migration from a number of African countries to Europe and how this was affecting Malta. They also spoke about the ongoing tragedy of so many people around the world who are compelled to flee their countries. The JRS members of staff said that hundreds of men, women and children drown every year as they attempt to cross the Mediterranean in search of a new life in peace and freedom in Europe. The JRS team includes beneficiaries of international protection.

In the meeting, Archbishop Cremona inquired about the work of JRS Malta with asylum seekers. They spoke about the legal and social work service offered by JRS as well as about the assistance given to immigrants on health-related matters. They also mentioned the School Outreach Programme, pastoral support to detainees and the work carried out at the office ‘where people from many countries around the world pass through.’ The JRS team expressed their concern about the effects that Malta’s detention policy has on asylum seekers’ mental health.  They also spoke about the welcome that parish communities could extent to Christian immigrants and about the severe financial hardship and insecurity that many immigrants experience.

While thanking the Archbishop for his compassionate words about immigrants and refugees, the JRS staff also said they were encouraged that His Grace tried to show that the respect of asylum seekers’ rights was a Christian and human obligation. “This is not a matter of choice,” concluded the Archbishop, “it is a duty we are all called to fulfil.”

Click on the photo to enlarge. The photos of the Archbishop’s events may be obtained from PHOTOCITY, Valletta. Tel: 21236723. Email: [email protected]