Pubdate: Mon, 21 Jun 2004
Source: Times Of Malta (Malta)
Copyright: 2004 Allied Newspapers Limited
Author: Michael Testa


The drug abuse problem has again been highlighted, with Caritas warning 
that drug abusers were becoming younger and younger and with mayors of some 
localities crying out for more police surveillance to avoid its further spread.

Caritas is marking International Day Against Drug Abuse, falling on Saturday.

The mayors of Marsascala and Senglea suspect that young people in their 
localities who are caught in the vice, are mainly drug victims, with 
traffickers coming to the localities from other areas.

Senglea mayor Joe Casha called on the authorities to ensure that old, 
abandoned or unused buildings are not allowed to be used for drug abuse.

Contacted yesterday Mr Casha said that one such building was the Macina, 
which formerly used to be the Malta Labour Party's headquarters in Senglea 
and which now is owned by the Cottonera consortium.

Unused garages close by are also used for drug abuse.

The Senglea council had often taken the responsibility to lock the garages 
near the Macina, but they are usually forced open again. "Residents close 
to the Macina had reported seeing lights inside the old building even 
though it is not occupied and the council took the initative to seal off 
the entrance to the building with iron bars," Mr Casha said.

Mr Casha said objects related to drug abuse that were found in Senglea 
indicated that there was a serious problem.

Syringes were found in public toilets and other out of the way sites and 
abandoned buildings.

"The council is doing its best to prevent abuse but then it is up to other 
authorities to take action," he said.

He said the council was sending a letter to the minister concerned and to 
the Lands Department, highlighting the problems and calling for appropriate 

And, he added, more police surveillance at sites suspected of being used 
for drug abuse, particularly abandoned or unused buildings, would be helpful.

Marsascala mayor Charlot Mifsud attributed the drug problem in his town to 
various factors, mainly to the many secluded spots which make it easier for 
those abusing or trafficking drugs.

Another factor was the concentration of young people who frequented discos, 
bars and other entertainment spots, which drew traffickers to the area.

Another reason was the lack of police supervision, especially near secluded 
areas. The need was felt for more police in the area, as the police station 
was undermanned, he said.

Mr Mifsud said one of the reportedly most notorious spots for drug abuse 
was the garden close to the sandy stretch at St Thomas Bay.

"Gardeners who are assigned work at the garden dread the moment they are 
asked to work there because of the number of syringes that are discarded in 
the soil," Mr Mifsud said.

A complex known as Ta' Monita, close to the primary school, was another 
site where abuse used to take place before the doors and windows were 
sealed with bricks.

He said the Marsascala local council was joining other councils to organise 
a week-long programme of activities, including various talks for parents 
and young persons, to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse.

The programme will reach its highlight on Saturday with a symbolic walk at 
Marsascala starting at 7 p.m.

Messages will be read at the end of the walk.

The council is also circulating a petition calling for more sport 
facilities to keep young people away from drugs and for more police 

The petition, which will ask for the fight against drugs to be part of 
children's education at school, will eventually be presented to the 
President, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Archbishop.
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