A dire situation which TVM is informed has been dragging on for months led to the tragic death of a Nigerian girl who was living with her family at a residence lent to them by the Dominican sisters in Zabbar. According to information obtained by PBS, the autopsy on the child established that she had severe anemia and was weak and malnourished. The Duty Magistrate, Ian Farrugia, who is leading the inquiry into the case, is expected to consider various factors which may directly or indirectly have led to her death.
From information obtained by TVM following the death of the 7-year-old girl, it appears that she was the victim of a vulnerable family and possibly a lack of timely intervention by the authorities to avoid this situation of carelessness and neglect.
TVM has confirmed that the child had not been attending school for many months and although there were many reports to this effect, it appears that her family,because of their circumstances, never paid attention to these reports. The three children in this family were also briefly under a care order and were being monitored by social workers from Aġenzija Appoġġ. The Minister of the Family and Social Solidarity Michael Falzon confirmed that this family was going through particular difficulties.
Minister Falzon said that “without shifting the blame on to any one else, this responsibility did not fall under Appoġġ. As happens in hundreds of cases of ‘looked after children’, the Agency was helping them, but because of a certain resistance from the side of the parents, especially the father, the children were not being sent to school.”
TVM could not confirm if social workers had visited the Nigerian family recently, in this very complicated case. Some people who spoke with TVM expressed the belief that the industrial action by social workers may have limited the number of visits to this family, but Minister Falzon discarded this possibility.
“This had absolutely nothing to do with the industrial action because that was limited to the social workers not answering the phones and other means of communication.”
According to Minister Falzon, there was never a request for the child and her siblings to be removed from the family through a care order.
“What I can tell you is that after what happened, there is a great resistance by the relatives for the other children to be monitored.”
Minister Falzon said he feels that the case has not shed a bad light on Aġenzija Appoġġ.
“There is no need for me to order an investigation about Appoġġ because as I have told you, the home is not run by Appoġġ.”
Meanwhile, when questioned, a spokesman for the Curia told TVM that the Nigerian family was living independently, in a home which was lent to them by the Dominican sisters on a request which was made in 2016 by the Government Agency for the Protection of Asylum seekers. He added that the Nigerian family was not under the care of any Church organization.