Opinion: Leave her in peace

Should a three-year-old girl severely traumatised by war be subjected to the unnecessary ordeal of having to sit still in parliament, listen to a bunch of politicians indulge in virtue signalling, and then take part in staged photo opportunities and even forced physical affection?

This is what some bright spark orchestrated last week – a depressing spectacle in self-congratulatory back-slapping at the little girl’s expense.

Selah, who lost her mother and brother and was severely injured in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, arrived in Malta with her father on Tuesday for medical treatment. But instead of receiving the much-needed and promised care, they were both paraded around while still grieving the loss of half their family.

As well as having to sit still in parliament, the girl met Prime Minister Robert Abela and his wife Lydia in a ploy to gain maximum political mileage from her horrific experiences. 

The girl’s “meeting” with Abela and his wife was filmed and swiftly uploaded onto the prime minister’s Facebook page, with TVM duly reporting the event.

Is the prime minister so desperate for publicity that he couldn’t even pass on this opportunity? 

The child’s heart-wrenching story would elicit sympathy and support from even the most stone-hearted person. 

That’s precisely why Abela cynically jumped onto the bandwagon, uploading an image of them greeting the girl and exposing her to further unnecessary publicity.

The girl’s father had no alternative.  Abela’s government had given him a lifeline, so he must have felt obliged to comply with his PR efforts. 

Furthermore, considering the benefits his daughter would reap from the prime minister’s “generosity”, it must have seemed a small concession. 

But the vulnerability of the family’s situation highlights the crass insensitivity of subjecting the little girl to further unnecessary distress from needless exposure

Having sustained grievous injuries and losing her mother and brother just weeks ago, filming the girl meeting total strangers was hardly necessary.

Even sadder is that Abela wasn’t alone in milking the girl’s story for political mileage.

Opposition Leader Bernard Grech also posed for photos with the girl, giving her a gift and a card. That’s really going to help a toddler recover from the terrifying horrors she’s endured.

Then we witnessed Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia forcing himself onto the girl by kissing her on the face. 

This girl is seriously injured – she should be in hospital recovering, not crying in parliament or being kissed by strangers.

After the terror she’s suffered, she needs care and support, and she should be spared situations where she might feel insecure and unsafe. 

The immediate period after sustaining such major trauma is critical, and exposing the child to unnecessary experiences, which are of absolutely no benefit to her, should never have happened.

Taking her to parliament certainly didn’t benefit the child, and meeting the prime minister and his wife didn’t help her recover. 

Neither did an uninvited kiss from the Speaker or a cuddle from the Opposition Leader. The politicians were the only ones who benefitted from those cheap photo opportunities.

Was advice sought from clinicians about the appropriateness of making the little girl go through these unnecessary encounters so soon after her traumatic experiences?

Is the Commissioner for Children still in office?  The commissioner’s role is to advocate for the appropriate protection of children, especially the most vulnerable. It’s her role to protect that child from the shameless exploitation by our political leaders.

Making the necessary arrangements to transfer the girl to Malta for treatment was highly commendable; but like her, there are thousands more in Gaza desperate for evacuation and medical care.

Let us not forget that Malta has plenty of opportunities to demonstrate its generosity to other children closer to home, many of whom remain in detention after having entered the country irregularly.

What about the countless children who drowned in the Mediterranean after the boats they were on were denied assistance or pushed back by Maltese authorities? Or those it lobbied the EU to be able to lock up?

They are all innocent and in need, as much as little Selah. 

Malta’s collaboration with Libyan authorities and its efforts to return irregular migrants to Libya, where conditions have been documented to be inhumane, subjects even children to degrading and inhuman treatment. 

The government’s stance has been blamed by international human rights organisations for the deaths of minors. Malta could have saved those children if it wanted.

It is somewhat strange that Robert Abela, Bernard Grech and Anglu Farrugia did not organise photo shoots with black children saved from death’s door after their perilous Mediterranean crossing. Oddly, they were never invited to parliament.  There were numerous black faces for Anglu Farrugia to kiss.

The double standards and hypocrisy are stark, and the exploitation of the little girl’s tragedy for the benefit of our politicians was as distasteful as it was unnecessary.

Provide the girl with medical care, support her family, strive for peace in the region – but leave her out of the public eye. The last thing she needs is another photo session with another politician, desperate for a few likes on his social media page.


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Carmelo borg
2 months ago

Prosit Kevin HAQQEK midalja fuq din.

2 months ago
Reply to  Carmelo borg

Ghadni ma nistax nifhem xgabuha taghmel Hawn din tifla ghax jien kont qed nistenna lil tal cameras go xi klinika mhux dawn il kummidji mal politici

2 months ago

What about the involvement of Abela’s Government in facilitating the kidnap of a 2 year old from France in 2022 who hasn’t seen his mother since then ?

Charles Vassallo
Charles Vassallo
2 months ago

What a bunch of pathetic losers be you, Robert Abela, Bernard Grech and Anglu Farrugia. How dare you all pass such an innocent child through such an ordeal! All this, so that you, a lame and sorry excuse of so called Christian human beings, ‘abuse’ such a poor young victim of war, for your own political mileage ‘brownie’ points!

Shame on YOU ALL!

Robert pace bonello
Robert pace bonello
2 months ago

Disgusting. All, with no exceptions, politicians care about is what’s good for them. Why did this young girl have to go through all this? Is this why they brought her here?

Austin Sammut
Austin Sammut
2 months ago

Sick. The three of them. Showmen at the expense of a little child.

Mario Vella Laurenti
2 months ago

Dr. Robert Abela, what about that 4-year-old girl that you let die of thirst in Maltese waters?, Did you take any photos with her while she was dead?

Winston Psaila
Winston Psaila
1 month ago

Any cheap chance will do for cheap publicity.

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