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2,008 immigrants arrived on 24 boats in 2013, highest number since 2008

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2,008 immigrants arrived on 24 boats in 2013, highest number since 2008Last year 24 boats arrived in Malta with 2,008 irregular immigrants, the highest number since 2008, the National Statistics Office said today.

An increase of 6.2 per cent was recorded in the number of irregular immigrants arriving by boat in 2013 when compared to the previous year. Nearly half arrived during July. Almost all visitors were of African origin. Somali nationals made up 49.8 per cent, while one-fourth were Eritreans.

Last year, the Office of the Refugee Commissioner filed 2,246 new applications for international protection – an increase of 8.0 per cent over the previous year. More than half these applicants were males aged between 18 and 34. The majority, 87.5 per cent, were Africans, of whom 44.7 per cent were Somalis and 23.8 per cent Eritreans. Another 12.4 per cent originated from Asia, predominantly from Syria (60.1 per cent).

During 2013, the Office of the Refugee Commissioner processed 1,905 applications: 84.3 per cent were granted a positive decision, while the remainder were rejected. The largest number of applicants who were granted asylum came from Somalia and Eritrea, with shares of 26.0 and 20.5 per cent respectively.

A decrease of 14.2 per cent was registered in the resident population of Open Centres and other institutional households. The majority, 72.1 per cent, of persons staying in Open Centres were located in Hal Far, while another 23.5 per cent were residing in Marsa. More than three-fourths of residents were males whereas 42.4 per cent were Somalis.

During 2013, 2,437 persons were found to be present illegally in Malta – an increase of 8.0 per cent over the previous year. The majority, 82.8 per cent, were Africans, and a further 13.6 per cent were Asians (mainly of Syrian and Palestinian origin).

Moreover, 67.2 per cent of these migrants were between 18 and 34 years old. Of the persons found to be illegally present, 460 were sent back to their country of origin, with 60.9 per cent returning to African countries, predominantly Libya.

Last year 299 persons were refused entry at Malta International Airport. More than half were stopped because they had no sufficient means of subsistence. Another 19.1 per cent did not have a valid visa or residence permit and 15.4 per cent had an unjustified purpose or condition of stay.

Last year, 428 third-country nationals resettled in another country – an increase of eight persons over 2012. Another 55 persons benefited from assisted voluntary return programmes.

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