Thursday, 20 February 2014

Integration of Refugees in Malta

The Maltese NGO KOPIN is active in development education and advocacy work on North-South issues. The former TRIALOG consortium partner is also very much engaged in the integration of refugees in Malta. Two projects are specially focused on women, young migrants and families.

Befriend: Integration of Refugee Women
The Befriending pilot project was kick-started in April 2013 and has been jointly implemented by KOPIN and the Maltese UN Agency for Refugees (UNHCR Malta). The project aims at facilitating the process of integration of refugee women through the creation of one-to-one mentoring relationships between refugee women and local volunteer women. The programme specifically targets refugee women who represent a particular vulnerable group, due to the fact that they are less well-equipped than men to integrate into Maltese society as they have never taken any regular language course, nor have they participated in any skills training. The project foresees for mentors and mentees to meet at least once a week and to undertake social and cultural activities together. Mentors are expected to contribute as much as they can to the integration of women by organizing visits and activities which foster the understanding of the Maltese culture and customs. In particular, mentors are to discover the interests and desires of their refugee friends and show them the opportunities that the Maltese context offers to fulfill them. The aim is to facilitate the access of refugees to public events and public places which may be of interest for them and which may be useful to create a social network within the local context.

The activities in 2013 included, first of all, a training for the mentors concerning asylum and migration issues and communication skills and later, among others, excursions around Malta to discover local culture and customs, social events to enlarge the refugees’ network and specific activities to overcome integration barriers mainly related to language, employment, childcare, housing and access to health care. The project will come to an end in February 2014, but the programme will continue throughout the year with new activities suggested by the experience of the pilot and new participants.

Dar il-Liedna: Provision of services to Refugees
Since 2010, KOPIN has been conducting empowerment and inclusion activities in the refugee centre Dar il-Liedna (DiL). Located in the Southern part of Malta, DiL hosts both families and unaccompanied migrant minors. Until November 2013, this house accommodated seven families which were benefitting from the activities KOPIN provides.

Since the beginning of 2014, KOPIN not only organises activities for the families but also for the minors, based on needs assessments with both residents and centre coordinators. People living here have a vast cultural background and come from various parts of the globe such as Somalia, Nigeria and Syria. KOPIN takes this fact into consideration and believes that one-to-one activities with the beneficiaries provide more fruitful results. In fact, the activities, which are being conducted by a team of five dedicated volunteers and interns, include English and Maltese language classes, homework support for children and job and course searching training on a weekly basis.

In addition to the activities, KOPIN maintains positive relationships with the beneficiaries by supporting their ad hoc needs, such as drafting Curricula Vitae, communicate any job offerings that might be of interest or enrolment into any course they desire by giving them course information and contact details. KOPIN’s engagement in Dar il-Liedna forms part of its wider efforts to support refugees and asylum seekers in Malta, to promote human rights and to contribute to a more just society in Malta and the world.

For more information please contact and visit the KOPIN website

Photo: Participants of the refugee-volunteer programme in Dar il-Liedna, KOPIN

Information provided by: Article provided by Sarah Perrella (Befriend) and Adriana Grech (Dar il-Liedna), KOPIN 

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