What a baffling and erratic turn of events – a whopping 92 migrants have shockingly made their way to Malta by sea in the year of our lord up to April 2023!
On Friday, May 26, 2023, it was revealed that 92 migrants had arrived in Malta by sea between January 1 and April 30 of that year. These figures were published by UNHCR, and they represent a stark contrast to the previous year, which saw only one person arrive in Malta by sea (also a medical evacuation).
Intriguingly, all of the individuals who arrived in 2023 were male, with the exception of one alleged minor. Furthermore, they all departed from Libya, and their nationalities were predominantly Bangladeshi, Egyptian, and Sudanese. There was also an individual whose nationality could not be identified due to a medical condition.
UNHCR is actively involved in the disembarkation of these individuals, providing interpretation services to the authorities and initial information on reception and asylum procedures. This comes at a crucial time, as there has been a continuing trend of adult males arriving in Malta in increasing numbers, with 65% arriving in 2021 and 80% in 2022. Almost all new arrivals in 2023, 99%, are adult males.
As of April 30, there were 287 individuals residing in open reception centres (OCs) in Malta, while a further 212 were benefiting from social assistance in the community. The top three countries of origin identified in the open centres were Eritreans, Sudanese, and Somalis. Syrians, Libyans, and Ukrainians were the main beneficiaries of assistance while living in the community, as opposed to the open centres where the majority of individuals reside.
116 first-time applications for asylum were submitted in the first four months of 2023, with nationals from Bangladesh, Syria, and Libya being amongst the top three nationalities applying. The International Protection Agency had also issued 616 decisions at first instance, with a recognition rate of 16% (97), and a rejection rate of 41% (253).
The waiting time for first-instance decisions in 2023 was found to be 3.7 years on average. Eritreans waited for 2 years on average, while it took Syrians 3 years and Somalis 3.5 years to be granted International Protection. On the other hand, rejected cases took 2.8 years for Somalis, 3.3 years for Sudanese and Syrian nationals, and two months for Bangladeshi nationals.
It was also discovered that Malta had granted 264 Temporary Protection Certificates in the first four months of 2023. Most of these were to Ukrainian nationals, with women and children accounting for about 75% of the certificates issued in 2023. 62% of the adult males were over 35 years old.
UNHCR plays a critical role in providing information on the asylum system, Dublin Regulation, rights and obligations, and referring persons of concern to appropriate services. They also provide legal aid and psycho-social support to refugees through their partners. UNHCR is dedicated to ensuring access to reliable and adequate information for persons of concern through various channels such as email, phone, face-to-face counselling services, and more.