Castaways rescued from remote island after SOS spotted in sand
Just 0.31% of refugees in pledged EU quota relocated
Malta has yet to take in its share of refugees from Greece and Italy, amounting to 131
10 February 2016, 1:32pm
The Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos said that only 497 migrants, out of the 160,000 refugees that the EU members pledged to share, were relocated.
“We need to urgently switch gears on relocation. So far, only 497 migrants were relocated. Member states have to show solidarity and responsibility,” Avramopoulos said.
The minister for home affairs, Carmelo Abela, had told MaltaToday that the process was “slow,” and that the country had not yet received the list of refugees selected for relocation by Italy and Greece.
“We have done what we were asked to do, namely to provide the number of refugees Malta is ready to take in on a quarterly basis. This process was completed in September and now we are waiting for the respective countries to select the refugees,” Abela said last month.
He added that Malta has committed to take in 189 refugees over two years, under the relocation and resettlement programmes.
Ahead of next week’s European Council, the European Commission reported on the implementation of the priority actions under the European Agenda for Migration.
“In the second half of 2015 unprecedented numbers of people have found their way into Europe by irregular means. Those who need protection must apply for asylum in the first EU country they reach. If necessary, they can be relocated to other Member States in order to achieve a fairer distribution. But people who do not claim asylum, or who do not qualify for it, must be quickly and effectively identified and returned,” European Commission first vice-president Frans Timmermans said.
“Getting back to an orderly management of flows is the most pressing priority today. The European Commission is supporting Member States in delivering a coordinated European response, including in terms of substantial financial and practical support."
Avramopoulos added: "While the number of migrants arriving to Europe remains high, we need to step-up the implementation of the agreed European response that strikes the balance between responsibility and solidarity. It must be clear for people arriving in the Union that if they need protection they will receive it, but it is not up to them to decide where; and if they do not qualify for protection, they will be returned. To better manage the flow of migrants and secure European borders, all Member States shall deliver on their commitments, strictly apply the European rules on asylum and border control and provide the necessary support to those Member States that are the most exposed."
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