Boat arrivals declined sharply in 2022

Last year Malta registered the second-highest migrant rejection rate in the European Union

Migrant boat (Photo: Sea Watch/Twitter)
Migrant boat (Photo: Sea Watch/Twitter)

Malta witnessed a dramatic drop in migrants arriving by boat last year with the National Statistics Office reporting that 445 persons made it to shore in 10 landings.

The figures released on Monday show that the number of boat landings decreased by 47% in 2022 when compared to the previous year.

The data was released to mark World Refugee Day, which is celebrated on Tuesday, 20 June.

The NSO said the majority of persons brought to shore were citizens of Asian countries (91%), while the remaining 9% were citizens of African countries.

September saw the highest recorded number of persons being brought to shore, 176 individuals, followed by arrivals in November and August, at 116 and 84 individuals, respectively.

A total of 1,318 applications for asylum were lodged with the International Protection Agency (IPA) during 2022, which represents a decrease of 17% over the previous year. This figure excludes applications for temporary protection, the vast majority of which were Ukrainian refugees.

Analysing asylum applications per million resident population across the EU Member States, Malta had the 11th highest rate per capita within the EU. Cyprus had the highest number of applications per capita last year.

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When assessing individual countries of citizenship, the NSO found that 21% of the total applicants were Syrian. This was followed by Eritrean and Sudanese citizens, at 9% and 8% per cent, respectively. Slightly over half of the applicants (56%) were males aged between 18 and 34.

Decisions on applications for international protection and appeals

During 2022, the IPA processed a total of 1,271 applications; 15% were granted a positive decision at first instance, while the remaining applications were rejected. When compared to the other EU Member States, this ranks Malta second lowest with respect to the share of positive first instance decisions on applications processed in 2022.

Estonia had the highest share of positive first decisions at 96% with Cyprus having the lowest share of positive decisions at 6%.

Of all the applicants granted a form of protection status at first instance during 2022, 45% were of Syrian citizenship with a further 40% were Eritrean citizens.

A total of 852 appeals on first instance decisions were filed with the International Protection Appeals Tribunal in 2022, an increase of 17% compared to the previous year.

During 2022, the IPA Appeals Tribunal processed 421 appeals, of which 417 (99%) were rejected. Within the EU, Malta had the sixth lowest positivity rate on final instance decisions taken on appeals in 2022.  Three countries – Estonia, Luxembourg and Portugal rejected all appeals processed in the reference year while on the other hand Bulgaria accepted all appeals processed. Hungary reported 0 final instance decisions taken on appeals in 2022.

At the end of 2022, there were 2,974 pending decisions on applications for asylum, a decrease of 26% from the previous year.

Temporary protection

Since the EU triggered the directive last year that allowed member states to grant immediate and temporary protection to residents fleeing Ukraine following Russia invasion, Malta granted temporary protection to 1,629 persons.

EU-wide there were approximately 4.3 million decisions granting temporary protection. Decisions granting temporary protection in Poland accounted for 36% of the total over the period.  When considering the number of persons granted temporary protection per million resident population, Czechia ranked highest while France ranked lowest.

As of December 2022, there were 1,516 persons benefiting from temporary protection in Malta, with 99% being Ukrainian citizens.

Open centres and resettlement, return and relocation programmes

A total of 258 persons were residents at open migrant centres at the end of 2022, a decrease of 64% when compared to the preceding year.

During 2022, 14 persons were relocated from Malta to another EU country, while 27 persons were resettled from Malta to a country outside the EU+. A further 45 persons benefitted from assisted voluntary return programmes and were returned to their country of origin.