DOCUMENTARY

Hangar of Hal Far
Refugees stranded in Malta. Photos by Martin Edström

At a makeshift mosque, the Muslim men of the hangar gather for prayer on paper, cardboard and blankets serving as prayer mats.

alta. An old World War II hangar, rusted to the core -- but now home to about two hundred refugees. They live here. They fled their African homelands to find a new life in Europe, and landed on the barren rock of Malta. Due to international regulations, many of them get stuck here for years. Some never leave. They keep praying beneath the hanger gate, at the very border of Europe. Hangar of Hal Far is a

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series of images that documents the lives of these people, stranded in the middle of the Mediterranean. Martin Edström is an award-winning Swedish photographer, specialising both in documentary and travel photography. His documentary portfolio includes stories on HIV/AIDS, climate change, third world relief, and the Peruvian Amazon. His portfolio, weblog and contact details are online: martinedstrom.se

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January/February 2010

Independent World report

Inside the pink folder this man keeps his identity. His original papers are worthless. The ID for temporary residency in Malta limits everything but staying in place. Like the rest of the refugees in Hal Far, without asylum, his home will, for now, be the hangar. He has been here for years.

The hangar is a World War II relic left behind by the British, now home to about two hundred men. Most of the men in the hangar are from Somalia, all of them escaping to Malta through Libya and by boat over the Mediterranean.

Independent World report

January/February 2010

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The concrete yard outside the hangar. It is Christmas time, and whatever sun there is keeps one warm. Inside, there is nothing to keep warm but blankets.

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In 2009, about 15,000 refugees landed in Malta. Thirty-five of them live in this bunkhouse beside the hangar.

In the hangar, the men play on a ruled grid of their own, games being what they have instead of a job.

Independent World report

January/February 2010

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Placed by the toilets, a couple of camping stoves serve food for all the men living in the hangar.

In between irregular food deliveries from the authorities, men are left on their own to gather what they can. With impossible odds of getting jobs, most go hungry in waiting for asylum into Europe.

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Independent World report

Eighteen-year-old Said, went to Sweden for a couple of months. He was shipped back. As his first point of entry into Europe was Malta, it is here he must seek asylum.

Independent World report

January/February 2010

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