Jesuit Refugee Service in Malta seeks to accompany, serve and defend the rights of asylum seekers and forcibly displaced persons who arrive in Malta. Each arrival's story bears witness to traumatized, disrupted pasts but also to a remarkable will to survive against all odds.
JRS Malta was founded in 1993. In the previous months, several hundred asylum seekers had arrived in Malta mainly from Iraq and the former Yugoslavia. With no national structures in place, the tiny office set out to address some of the pressing needs with the help of friends and volunteers.
Initially, JRS Malta worked mostly with asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection in the community, providing legal assistance, pastoral care, psycho-social and material support.
"We believed we should pay attention to refugees as people, and were among the first to raise the awareness of the Maltese public to the presence of refugees."
Written by Fr Joseph Cassar S.J., the first director of JRS Malta, these words underline the spirit of our work as it is shaped by the needs of refugees and asylum seekers arriving in Malta.
From 2002, due to the rise in the number of asylum seekers in detention, which was a direct result of the increase in the number of undocumented migrants arriving in Malta by boat from Libya, JRS Malta directed its activities and services towards this category of migrants, given the difficulties they faced when seeking to access basic services.
Over the years, JRS Malta expanded its services to include legal advice and provision of information to asylum seekers in detention, advocacy, public awareness-raising, social work services, limited healthcare and psychological support, and spiritual care. Today it offers these services in detention or in the community as the case may be — to asylum seekers, beneficiaries of international protection and to forced migrants who cannot return to their country of origin — in response to the challenges presented by the new realities on the ground.
Video produced by Christian Fuchs — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA