UNHCR Malta is very proud to launch its first magazine ‘Moving Forward’, as a testament to both an enduring and changing Malta.
Spark15 on the cover of UNHCR Magazine
© UNHCR/Tümer Gençtürk
Some years ago we conducted an in-house study of media content and on how refugees are featured in the local press. Not surprisingly, we found that many stories focused on rescue operations, with some attention on the reception conditions, but very little on what happened to refugees while living in Malta.
Following these findings, we made an effort to bring to public attention the stories of refugees who are living and working in Malta. We have produced a number of campaigns, including TV adverts on people who found protection in Malta, a short film on a group of Somali youth playing football at the Luxol ground, and a radio campaign featuring an Ethiopian wife and husband who opened a restaurant in Msida. These were among many other stories we feature online.
In a way, this magazine is the culmination of this effort. Inside this magazine, you will read some outstanding stories of refugees creating opportunities in Malta for themselves and for the wider community by opening businesses, such as an Ethiopian restaurant co-owned by an Ethiopian couple and a Maltese man. Their story was featured on a radio program to showcase their journey and experience, countering some of the more negative narratives. They are entrepreneurs, employing people and contributing to Malta’s economic growth.
There is also the unique story of Farah – a transgender Somali refugee who in 2016 published her autobiography entitled Never Again recounting her journey from Somalia to Malta as she experienced harrowing ordeals and passed through the many smuggling networks in Sudan and Libya.
Then there is the inspiring story of Spark15 – a youth refugee organisation which was launched in January 2017 at the President’s San Anton Palace. It is encouraging to see refugees living in Malta forming organisations in order to advocate for their rights. In fact, we decided to dedicate the front cover of this magazine to Spark15.
There are other groups forming registered organisations, such as the Sudanese, Somali and Eritrean communities, which UNHCR is working closely with and supporting.
The magazine also features the rescue at sea operations that still take place in the Mediterranean Sea and the heroic role of the NGOs and persons who are today saving the lives of people who are fleeing war and persecution.
With this magazine – a collection of stories from the past two years – UNHCR hopes to shed a positive light on a side of the refugee story that is often neglected and obscured by tragedy. We also hope that through this magazine readers will note that Malta is changing and will continue to evolve further in the coming years. It is of course up to all of us to see in which direction it goes.
The time to move forward together is now!