Page last updated at 11:33 GMT, Saturday, 9 May 2009 12:33 UK

In pictures: Malta's migration crisis

Interior of camp, view of beds with women on some of them

Ta' Kandja on Malta was a police training centre. It now houses 355 Africans rescued from the Mediterranean as they tried to enter Europe illegally. In 2003, 502 migrants arrived. Last year, 2,775 did.

Exterior of the camp, with large orange fence to right and building to left

Migrants can be held for up to 18 months in what the Maltese call "administrative detention". The accommodation block has modern facilities, but married couples are kept apart and people are locked in.

Clothes hanging on bars next to broken window

In January, a UN inquiry described other facilities as "appalling". The government says this is because Malta has the highest number of asylum applicants compared to its size of any EU country.

Four female asylum seekers

The migrants say they are grateful, but want their freedom. The 40 women in this room each have a single bed, but must share the toilets and showers. Their guards are men because no women will be.

Valletta city centre and harbour

Malta’s picturesque capital, Valletta, is the first glimpse of Europe for many of the migrants. Most want to reach the European mainland, but end up on Malta as it is nearest to where they are rescued.

Asylum seekers queuing outside a travel agency in Valletta

Just round the corner from Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi's office, some of the migrants who have been released queue for travel documents.

Maltese navy vessel

A former US Coast Guard vessel docked at Valletta, now used by the Armed Forces of Malta. It patrols a search and rescue area from Tunisia in the west to Crete in the east - Europe's southern frontier.

Maltese sailor onboard vessel

When a boat overloaded with migrants capsizes, crew members sometimes have to choose who to save. One says their job is to prevent the Mediterranean from becoming a graveyard.


The Maltese government thinks other EU states should share the burden. A report on Malta's migration crisis will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend on Sunday, 10 May at 1200 GMT.

Print Sponsor

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific