Skip to main content
Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
Jesuits News Social Justice JRS Malta: for 30 years walking with the Excluded
Social Justice

JRS Malta: for 30 years walking with the Excluded

Third day of visit to Malta for Fr Sosa. In the morning the meeting with Archbishop Mgr Scicluna in Floriana followed by the meeting with the Jesuit Refuge Service and its team of 17 people. He listened to the needs and services offered.

“Thank you for helping to bring me again to the reality of the lives and difficulties of refugees and asylum seekers” said Fr. Sosa. “For the Society of Jesus JRS is becoming more important every day. Since JRS was founded, the problem has become a very complicated and very human one. The magnitude of the phenomenon of migration of people who feel constrained to move to another part of the world is enormous, they find so many obstacles, but they find you, people willing to give a hand. People only leave home because they are desperate. To bring and maintain humanity in such situations is so precious”.

The first 30 years

JRS Malta began in 1994 when Fr. Joe Cassar, together with a few volunteers, initiated a programme of support for refugees in Malta, mainly from Iraq and the former Yugoslavia.

Over the past 25 years, JRS Malta has focused on providing information and professional services, establishing the first free legal service for asylum seekers in 1999. It has worked mainly in detention centres, especially after 2002 when the number of asylum seekers arriving by sea from Libya increased drastically.

In 2003, the team was expanded to include a social worker to support vulnerable asylum seekers – especially unaccompanied minors – during detention and to assist the state in opening the first reception centre for unaccompanied minors, so that children arriving in Malta would no longer have the experience of being detained. Since 2010, the psychosocial team has gradually expanded and now includes a nurse to assist asylum seekers in accessing health care, counsellors/psychologists and a psychosocial education assistant, as well as a social worker.

JRS Malta has always had a strong focus on advocacy and awareness raising. It has been present in schools with a specific programme since 2004.

Refocusing the mission

Since 2023, a process of discernment has been initiated to refocus the mission to bring it in line with the current context.
The steady decrease in the number of boat arrivals and asylum applications (from 3,406 in 2019 to 380 in 2023) as a result of Malta’s policy of refoulement to Libya and the interception and repatriation agreement with Libya, the reduction of space for protection, the prolonged detention, the increase in the number of rejected asylum seekers and their children who have been in Malta for years with no hope of regularisation, the increase in the number of asylum seekers in a particularly vulnerable situation due to medical or mental health problems, the lack of support for unaccompanied children and young adults, the growing social tensions, especially in areas with a high concentration of migrants, the portrayal of migrants and migration as a security issue, The government’s refusal to engage in any form of dialogue with civil society led to the decision to walk with young people to build a future of hope.

Main support activities

JRS supports access to education by providing information on existing education opportunities and literacy, language courses or individual tutoring to complete or continue studies or find employment in line with qualifications. To this end, a small hostel run by the Maltese Jesuits provides accommodation for 3-5 full-time students.

With the support of the JRS nurse, social worker, psychological services and legal aid, efforts are made to ensure that even the most vulnerable have access to health care and other services they need to live with dignity, and to promote spaces of reconciliation to facilitate community building in synergy with parishes and other organisations.

Latest news
View all news