France takes 100 refugees from Malta
France on Friday said it will offer homes to 100 boat people from Iraq, Ivory Coast, Somalia and Sri Lanka, including 20 young children, who were picked up in seas off MaltaValletta--.Immigration minister Eric Besson said at a ceremony at the French Embassy in Valletta that Paris had offered to assist Malta, which routinely fishes clandestine migrants heading for mainland Europe out of its waters.
Besson told the refugees that France "is giving you a chance to plan for your future in Europe" -- but also stressed that its secular traditions must be respected, reminding his audience that small children "would not be allowed to wear the head scarf in schools."
Maltese Home Affairs Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici said the decision was "a humanitarian act" which should set an example for other European nations. Malta wants all EU countries to share the burden for migrants who land on the bloc's Mediterranean shores.
The immigrants have been allocated to three localities in France.
Habiba Amr Moussa, speaking in English on behalf of the group, said she was thankful to Malta for saving her from the sea and to France for accepting her. She added she would like to find employment as a hotel manager.