Twenty beneficiaries of international protection from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan left Malta this morning to start a new life in the Netherlands.
This departure is taking place within the framework of UNHCR resettlement programme after it had pledged its support to Malta during a pledging conference for the EUREMA project.
The 20 migrants made up of five single adults and five families were identified by the Dutch authorities following a selection mission to Malta held towards the end of last year.
A number of cultural orientation sessions for the beneficiaries were conducted by the Dutch Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) in Malta during the last two months, to assist migrants in their preparations to settle in their new host society. Furthermore, authorities of the Netherlands will in the coming months assist the beneficiaries to integrate in their society.
The Netherlands is conducting this relocation following the commitment made at the ministerial pledging conference organised by the Commission in May 2011 for Member States and Associated countries to assist countries receiving large numbers of asylum seekers.
Other European countries have also committed to relocate beneficiaries of international protection from Malta, some in the context of the extension of the EUREMA pilot project, others on a bilateral basis.
These include Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, and Switzerland. Relocation exercises to Germany and Ireland took place last year, while those for Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have been initiated or even concluded during the past months.
The Ministry for Home Affairs and entities falling under its remit, including the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers and the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, and in collaboration with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Malta and the International Organization for Migration - Malta, coordinated this exercise with counterparts in the Netherlands.
UNHCR-Malta conducted counselling sessions and referred cases to the Dutch authorities. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) took care of the logistical preparations related to this departure.
Seeing off the beneficiaries of international protection, Parliamentary Assistant within the Ministry for Home Affairs Hon. Beppe Fenech Adami, thanked the Dutch government for taking part in this project. He said that to date 234 persons who where granted asylum in Malta have been relocated to other EU Members States and Associated countries within the framework of the extension of the EUREMA project. A further 227 persons had been relocated in 2010 when EUREMA was launched.
"Malta remains the only EU country which benefits from an intra-EU reallocation project for persons arriving on its shores. This is a feather in the cap of Government and successive Ministers for Home Affairs who persevered in bringing immigration to the fore in the agenda of the European Union institutions and introduced the concept of solidarity in this sector," Fenech Adami said.
The ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands ambassador, Robbert Gabriëlse, thanked the Maltese authorities, IOM and UNHCR for the excellent cooperation in preparing the resettlement of this group. He pointed out that the Netherlands was the first country to reallocate refugees from Malta in 2005. Since then both countries work closely together on accommodation, integration and resettlement of refugees and migrants.