92 migrants, including two medical evacuations, arrived in Malta by sea between 1 January and the end of April this year, figures published by the UNHCR show.
During the same period in 2022, only one person arrived to Malta by sea (also a medical evacuation).
All individuals who arrived in 2023 were male (adults with the exception of one alleged minor) and departed from Libya. The new arrivals were of Bangladeshi (75), Egyptian (11), and Sudanese (5) origin. The nationality of one person is unknown as the Maltese authorities were not able to officially register him due to his medical condition.
UNHCR said that its protection team attends and monitors disembarkations, providing interpretation support to the authorities and giving initial information on reception and asylum procedures to all new arrivals.
Continuing with the trend of increasing numbers of adult males arriving to Malta the previous years (65% in 2021 and 80% in 2022), almost all new arrivals in 2023 are adult males (99%), apart from one alleged unaccompanied minor whose age determination procedures by the Maltese authorities are ongoing.
According to AWAS, 287 individuals are residing in open reception centres (OCs) in Malta and an additional 212 more in the community benefit from social assistance. Half of the population in the reception centres are adult males, 65% of those living in Hal-Far Tent Village alone.
The top 3 countries of origin identified in the open centres are Eritreans (16%), Sudanese (15%) and Somali (13%) nationals, whilst Syrians (33%), Libyans (16%) and Ukrainians (9%) are the main beneficiaries of assistance while living in the community and not in the open centres with the rest of the beneficiaries.
There were 116 first-time applications for asylum in the first four months of 2023. Nationals from Bangladesh, Syria and Libya were amongst the top three nationalities applying.
As of 30 April, the International Protection Agency had issued 616 decisions at first-instance. The recognition rate (grants of Refugee or Subsidiary Protection status) stood at 16% (97), whilst the rejection rate at 41% (253).
As in 2022, there was a high number of 'Closed' cases (43%) in January-April 2023, referring to decisions comprising of Administrative closures (64), Dublin closures (18), applications that are Explicitly (27) or Implicitly withdrawn (147), and those deemed Inadmissible (9). Also, Temporary Humanitarian Protection (THP) was granted to one person during this timeframe.
Analysis shows that the average waiting time for a first instance decision issued in 2023 was 3.7 years. International Protection was granted on average after 2 years for Eritreans, 3 years for Syrians, and 3.5 years for Somalis. The average time for rejected cases stood at 3.3 years for Sudanese and Syrian nationals, 2.8 years for Somali, and almost 2 months for Bangladeshi nationals.
Malta meanwhile has granted 264 Temporary Protection Certificates in the first four months of 2023 to persons fleeing the war in Ukraine. A total of 1,888 Certificates have been issued since February 2022.
Most of the applicants in 2023 are Ukrainian nationals, except two, one adult female and one adult male from Russia. Women and children account for about 75% of the TP Certificates issued during 2023, and 62% of the adult males are over 35 years old.
UNHCR said that it visits open and closed centres to provide information on the asylum system, Dublin Regulation, rights and obligations, and to refer persons of concern to the appropriate services.
UNHCR said it is also present during disembarkations and works closely with forcibly displaced and stateless persons, partners and the authorities to strengthen their capacity and ensure access to international protection and durable solutions. UNHCR, through its partners, also provides legal aid and psycho-social support to persons of concern.
UNHCR said that it continues to provide information counselling and referral to persons of concern by email, over the phone and through WhatsApp, and continues to provide face-to-face counselling services at the office premises in Ta' Xbiex.
Source: Somali National News Agency