UNHCR Malta provides training for Refugee Focal Points in Gozo
Type of Information
Lauren Borg (Login to send email)
Contact Person Function
Durable Solutions Assistant
UNHCR Malta has trained refugees to become Refugee Focal Points (RFPs) in Gozo, an island that is part of the Maltese archipelago and accessible by ferry to the main island of Malta. The RFPs provide integration-related information to the rest of the refugee community in Gozo.
Issue/Challenge and Goal/Assumption
Based on consultations that UNHCR carried out with refugees in Gozo between April 2016 and June 2017, it became apparent that refugees in Gozo were struggling to access services that could facilitate their integration. In particular, the Somali community seemed to be facing a number of issues accessing social services, educational opportunities and employment, rendering them less able or motivated to integrate into the local community.
As Gozo is a smaller, more remote island, many opportunities and services can only be accessed on the main island of Malta. UNHCR identified the lack of a structured system providing adequate support for integration as one of the main challenges in Gozo.
The creation of the role of RFP helps to address this challenge, as RFPs can become part of a support structure by sharing information with other refugees on how to access social services and education and employment opportunities. By training RFPs, UNHCR aims to bridge the gaps between the refugee and migrant communities, service providers and the local Gozitan community.
How does it work
UNHCR Malta has been working with and training a group of refugees living in Gozo to serve as Refugee Focal Points (RFPs). The RFPs’ role is to serve as focal points for integration-related information within their respective communities.
The idea is that RFPs can pass on useful information to other members of their communities, following meetings and communications with service providers and other stakeholders. This can help raise awareness of the struggles faced by refugees in Gozo and allow the RFPs to collect and share the most useful information and services. Where necessary, the RFPs can also refer cases to UNHCR.
The RFPs participate in this project and support their community on a voluntary basis, alongside their work or studies. During the training, the RFPs requested more active involvement from stakeholders and service-providers working in Gozo such as Jobsplus (the Public Employment Service), the Housing Authority, the Social Work Unit, the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology’s Gozo Campus and the Gozo LEAP Centre, which provides support with a range of social welfare services. In addition to training from UNHCR, the RFPs participated in a team-building day in Xaghra, Gozo.
By the beginning of 2019, five young men from Somalia had received training and served as RFPs in Gozo to provide information about educational opportunities, service provision, etc. Their work gained support and publicity, including a meeting with H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta in August 2018.
An evaluation of the impact of the Refugee Focal Points in Gozo is not yet available. As the RFP model appears to be working well for a smaller community in Gozo, UNHCR Cyprus has come to Malta with the aim of replicating the model.
Who will benefit?
The Somali refugee community and other migrant communities living in Gozo will benefit from this initiative due to an improved knowledge of opportunities and services available to them. The five participants who trained to become RFPs, as well as any future volunteers, benefit from the training received and knowledge acquired.
Service providers will benefit from having a focal point to share information and a point of contact from within the refugee community.
The local (Gozitan) community will benefit from a refugee and migrant population that is better-integrated and able to contribute to society by engaging in education and employment opportunities.
Source of funding and Resources used
The training was organised and funded by UNHCR.