On 22 December last the Sovereign Order of Malta’s Grand Hospitaller Dominique de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel was in Malta for the donation to the Maltese authorities of a fully equipped mobile clinic for migrants and refugees arriving on the Mediterranean island. The decision to donate the unit had been announced by Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing and gratefully accepted.
The consignment ceremony took place in the Marsa Open Centre, the largest reception venue on the island, in the presence of the Order of Malta’s Grand Chancellor ad interim Fra’ John E. Critien and of the Maltese Minister of the Interior Carmelo Abela. Abela has confirmed that the mobile clinic will be used to provide first-aid for migrants arriving by boat and housed in the reception centres. A minibus was also consigned with the mobile clinic, to be used as a means of transport between the reception centres and the local healthcare facilities and Mater Dei Hospital.
The Maltese Foreign Minister George Vella explained that the island’s welfare agency for asylum applicants is also considering vocational education and training projects for migrants held on Malta.
According to estimates by Frontex, the European border and coast guard agency, migrant flows along the central Mediterranean route – from the African coasts towards Italy-Malta – has increased exponentially in recent years, rising from the 4,450 migrants intercepted in 2010 to the116,705 of 2016. The latest figures for deaths at sea are also tragic, amounting to 5 thousand during the year that has just ended. There are currently 670 people accommodated in the centres.