Youssef from Sudan

I met a man named Youssef at the Marsa Open Centre who told me he was from Sudan.  He had lived in the Centre for 5 years.  There was a brief period when he lived in Valletta but he had to move back due to lack of money.  It was not his choice.  No one would willingly choose to live at the Centre he said.  He told me about his life at the MOC.  He said there was nothing to do, not enough space, no privacy, and the toilets were in a terrible state.  He wanted better living conditions.  He had told the director of the MOC about the terrible conditions that he experienced but they had not listened.  He wanted more education.  He told me that the English classes that were offered were not big enough for the demand.  He said there was never enough work, that the Maltese did not care and did nothing to help.  He said that he had some friends who were still in detention (in the Closed Centres).  He told me that not everyone who came over on the boats was treated equally.  Some were given "protection"* and some were not.  Without protection it was impossible to travel elsewhere and you would be stuck in Malta.  From his frustrated tone I guessed that he had not been granted protection. * By "protection," I am assuming that Youssef meant refugee status and not humanitarian protection.   The latter is a status that can be granted to someone who falls outside the definition of refugee but still cannot return safely to their home country.  Humanitarian protection is temporary - as long as their country of origin remains sufficiently chaotic and dangerous - and does not give someone the same rights as a refugee.  This can lead to the inequalities that Youssef spoke of as refugees can work while those with "protection" cannot.    Source:  Jesuit Refugee Service, Malta