| Updated at: 0740 PST, Monday, June 20, 2011|
VALLETTA: UNHCR goodwill ambassador and Hollywood star Angelina Jolie visited asylum seekers held in detention and open centres in Malta yesterday.
The Oscar-winning actress met and spoke with migrants held at Lyster Barracks and the Hal-Far Hangar Open centre where families are accommodated in tents.
Jolie, 36, who is currently based in Malta while her husband Brad Pitt shoots a film on the Mediterranean island, later took a plane to visit the migrant centres on the Italian island of Lampedusa along with UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres.
"Malta has saved many lives, but it is the daily conditions on the ground that are of most concern," she said after visiting the centres.
Some of the migrants she met said living conditions were difficult and they were concerned about fuel and dust on the ground and rats chewing their tents.
So far this year more than 1,500 refugees have landed in Malta, almost all of them crossing on overcrowded and rickety boats after fleeing the strife in neighbouring Libya. Almost a million people have fled Libya since the outbreak of the Libya crisis.
"We've spoken about our shared concerns about making sure asylum claims are processed as quickly as possible so no one is sitting in a prison-like situation and waiting on a decision about their status? They are not asking to go to any particular country, they just want to find safety to work, and to have freedom," Jolie said.
Malta adopts a strict detention policy before any asylum seeker is let free.