The island nation of Malta, the smallest of the 27 EU member states
Major Wallace Camilleri, in charge of the Maritime Squadron. "It’s not relevant for me how many do cross over.How many do make it. Sometimes I ask myself ‘how many do not make it?’ "
An African migrant in detention, who was rescued at sea by the Maltese Armed Forces just days earlier.
Father Joseph Cassar, Malta Director of Jesuit Relief Services, JRS. "The conditions in our detention centers really leave much to be desired".
Alexander Tortell, of the Maltese government, is responsible for the integration of refugees.
"We cannot house them on ships. We cannot house them in the countryside, which we do not have. And, therefore, these people are placed either in open centers or else when they leave the open centers they themselves make their own arrangements to live in the community."
Some residents of Ta' Kandja, such as this man (from Nigeria), spend up to 18 months in "administrative detention"
Maltese officials hope that the country’s strict detention policy will discourage migrants from making the hazardous journey from Libya.
The island nation of Malta has rescued over 10,000 people off its coast in the past seven years. Fishing vessels have also picked up migrants adrift at sea.
African asylum seekers at the Ta' Kandja Detention center. This is a police training centre. But it also doubles as an involuntary home for illegal African migrants.
New arrivals from Ghana, Eritrea, Somalia, Nigeria, Ethiopia and the Ivory Coast at the Ta' Kandja Detention center.
In 2009, According to Maltese officials, Somali detainess rioted to protest their detention – and it took dozens of police to restore order.
Since 2002, thousands of Africans have journeyed through deserts and risked their lives to reach the shores of the Mediterranean and North to Europe. Some have been rescued at sea by the Maltese navy and transported to Malta, where their requests for asylum are mostly denied.
The busy bus terminal in the capital Valletta.
Word about Malta's strict detention policy may be spreading, according to Malta's government, citing the fact that the number of migrants in detention has dropped to just 65 from hundreds just a year ago.
Mr Alex Tortell (Director of The Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers)
"The experience of integration all over Europe is that integration cannot start—in the strict sense of the word—before a person has a full time legal job. Unfortunately, because of Malta’s limitations we have thousands of people who haven’t gotten to that point."
Dr. Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici is Malta’s Justice Minister. He says his nation of 400,000 is trying to balance humanitarian obligations, while protecting Malta from a tidal wave of economic migrants.
"Eighteen months. I'm surprised I might be here for eighteen months", said this detainee, days after being rescued at sea by Maltese sailors.
Ta' Kandja Detention center, a police training centre that houses hundreds of illegal African migrants.
"At least I'm safe in Malta" says this would be asylum seeker from West Africa.
At Ta' Kandja, according to a BBC report "there is air conditioning, a small exercise yard, showers and toilets." Administrative detention also comes with barbed wire and locked doors.
Ta' Kandja Detention Center for illegal migrants. Almost everyone that has been detained here since 2005 have been Africans, and all have been persons of color.
African migrants rescued at sea by the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM). The AFM has come to the aid of hundreds of illegal migrants in an area at sea the size of Texas.
A chief guard at Ta' Kandja, Mike Cassar.
Malta's Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs.
Malta for those born there is viewed as a virtual paradise. But its appeal is limited to migrants hoping to make it to continental Europe.
One teenager interviewed for this series said "We’re a small country and we have many illegal immigrants for a small country that we are. Every immigrant someday will have to buy a home in Malta and there’s no place for them. "
Residents of the Rainbow House outside Valletta
This resident of the Rainbow House says she wants to relocate to Minneapolis, where there are "other people just like me".
Illegal asylum seekers freed from detention are generally given a small monthly stipend and shelter for about a year at the open-centres and in residences such as the Rainbow House. But finding a job and a permanent place to live has proved challenging for this Somali migrant and her children.
This Rainbow House resident wants to return to Switzerland, where she once lived illegally: "When I stayed In Switzerland they gave good house, and good life, good money and good education. Malta is small, they can’t."
The Maltese government has noted that more and more African children are among those being rescued at sea.
This Somali boy says he likes Malta, but he says that his classmates joke about his skin color.
Two Somali boys playing in the courtyard at the rainbow House in Malta. The residence is one of several integration centers run by Malta's Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers.
Somali boy at the Rainbow House in Malta.
A Somali child playing at the Rainbow House
Some migrants complain about the rank odor of porta-potties at the Hal Far open centre for African asylum seekers.
"It was an airplane hanger here." Ahmed took me on a restricted tour of the Hal Far open center.
A dejected migrant at the Hal Far open centre. He chose not to give his name or show his face.
According to the Times of Malta: "The Ħal Far open centre is somewhat overcrowded, as last December 400 migrants were released from detention and relocated to open centres.
Some residents have had to sleep in a hangar, which reeks of rotten fruit and in which birds fly and perch for the night, leaving their droppings on the bed sheets.
"These large numbers of people who are new comers to our society need to be housed somewhere." Maltese official Alex Tortell commenting on the Hal Far open centre and criticism from human rights groups.
Hal Far. Said one man interviewed for this series: "I can’t live in this situation. I told them, the government, I would prefer to go to my home country to living here. I have no place to sleep. Nothing to eat. I don’t have anything, so I prefer to go to Somalia, and they told me you can’t go to Somalia because Somalia is a dangerous place. "
African Migrants at Hal Far have called on the Maltese government and the United Nation's refugee agency the UNHCR to improve conditions there. Many complain that the kitchen is both small and unsanitary.
A Somali asylum seeker in the kitchen at the Hal Far open centre.
The JRS of Malta has filed several complaints about conditions at Hal Far.
Jesuit Refugee Service of Malta has filed several complaints about conditions at Hal Far.
Malta, with its warm temperatures and cosmopolitan center, is for many the closest thing to paradise.
One of seveal Ministries that are responsible for asylum seekers in Malta.
Jean-Philippe Chauzy is director of communications for the International Organization for Migration in Geneva. Regarding African migrants in Libya: "They cannot go forward because they realize the risk and do not have the money to pay smugglers. They can’t go back because they do not have the documentation. "
In an effort to discourage illegal immigration, Malta has one of the toughest detention policies in Europe, but some say it goes too far and is targeted at Africans.