Irregular immigrant arrivals & asylum seekers down in 2009
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In 2009, 1,475 irregular immigrants arrived in Malta. New applications for asylum amounted to 2,387, down by 8.5 per cent when compared to the previous year.
Every 20th June, World Refugee Day is celebrated worldwide to mark the courage and strength of individuals who flee their country or homeland. This year’s theme, “Home,” draws attention to the help given to irregular migrants to find a new home through procedures like resettlement programmes and voluntary repatriation.
During the year under review, 1,475 irregular immigrants reached Maltese shores on 17 boats. There was a decline of 79.8 per cent in arriving boats when compared to the landings in 2008, which resulted in a drop of 1,300 irregular immigrants.
There was also a decline in the number of new applications filed with the Office of the Commissioner for Refugees for asylum at the end of 2009; from 2,608 at the end of 2008 to 2,387 in the year under review. Similar to 2008, 97.1 per cent of applicants were African, 2.7 per cent were Asian while 0.2 per cent were either European or American.
In 2009, 2,575 decisions were taken by the Office of the Commissioner for Refugees, in which 20 and 1,671 individuals were granted refugee status and subsidiary protection respectively. Another 884 applications were rejected. Of the 1,691 positive decisions granted, 99.2 per cent involved African immigrants, while the remaining 0.8 per cent were Asian. Most applicants granted a positive decision (81.5 per cent) were males and the majority, 88.4 per cent, were between 18 and 34 years old. Children accounted for 4.4 per cent of all positive decisions. In December 2009, 2,486 individuals were living in open centres, while an additional 297 were residing in other institutional households. 91.7 per cent were adults and 82.1 per cent were males. Nearly all residents were African.
During the past two years 200 irregular immigrants benefitted from assisted voluntary return programmes; 52 were repatriated in 2008 and 148 in 2009. 92 per cent of these repatriations involved males.
During the year under review, the number of persons found to be illegally present in Malta totalled 1,691 and were subject to an obligation to leave the country. The majority of these third-country nationals (87.0 per cent) fell within the 18-34 age-bracket; 6.7 per cent were children under 18 years of age and 6.3 per cent were 35 and over. Of the 530 persons who were returned to third countries (non-EU countries) by the Police, 31 were European, 416 were African, 81 were Asian and 2 were American.