In 2002, the number of asylum seekers and economic migrants arriving in Malta by boat increased sharply, a situation faced by several European countries around the Mediterranean. After first working to prevent the deportation of a Libyan asylum seeker who risked persecution if returned home, Camilleri’s interest in refugee protection grew. In 1996, she started to work with the Malta office of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), first as a volunteer, then part-time and eventually full-time. JRS became the first organization to offer professional legal services on a regular basis to detainees in Malta. Since 1997, Camilleri has provided legal advice to hundreds of persons kept in administrative detention centres in Malta.
In 2007, she was awarded the Nansen Refugee Award (United Nations Refugee Award) in recognition of her work for the rights of boat people fleeing across the Mediterranean Sea.