Migration: European asylum agency to double support for Malta

The European Asylum Support Office’s operational plan for Malta will see the agency offer increased technical support to the authorities when dealing with migrant arrivals

Migrant sea arrivals in 2019 more than doubled when compared to the previous year
Migrant sea arrivals in 2019 more than doubled when compared to the previous year

Malta will receive increased support from the European Asylum Support Office this year when dealing with migrant reception issues, the agency said.

In its operational plan for 2020, EASO will double its support for Malta and other frontline Mediterranean states.

The plan was agreed last month and for the first time will see the European agency provide support at reception level through the deployment of Vulnerability Officers to help authorities better manage migrant arrivals.

“EASO personnel will support work on vulnerability through the deployment of Vulnerability Officers and technical support on reception, including age assessment procedures. EASO will not, however, be involved in direct support for the management of reception centres,” the agency said.

The agency will continue to support the Maltese authorities with ad hoc disembarkations and voluntary relocations.

In an assessment carried out last year, EASO found that as a result of increased arrivals the Maltese asylum and reception system is facing increased pressure.

This has resulted in delays and was straining current capacity and resources across a number of areas, including registration of applications for international protection, first- instance determination and the Dublin procedure, second-instance determination, and reception.

According to the Home Affairs Ministry between January and October 2019 sea arrivals more than doubled compared to the previous year, with 1,445 migrants recorded in 2018 and 3,115 in 2019.

“The volume of applications showed a similar picture, with 1,890 applications for international protection lodged during the first seven months of 2019, which was 83% higher than the level recorded during the same period in 2018. Accordingly, the average number of monthly applications increased from 148 to 270,” the EASO said in its assessment on Malta.

The European agency said that up to 2,000 personnel will be deployed in Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta in 2020.

EASO’s operational deployments will double in size, with up to 550 personnel deployed in Greece, 150 in Italy, 120 in Cyprus and 60 in Malta. 

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