Drop in boat arrivals to Malta in 2014

Volatile situation in Libya could change matters any moment

The drop in arrivals should be seen in the context of Italy's Mare Nostrum Operation, which to date has resulted in more than 85,000 people being rescued and disembarked in Italy. Photo: AFM
The drop in arrivals should be seen in the context of Italy's Mare Nostrum Operation, which to date has resulted in more than 85,000 people being rescued and disembarked in Italy. Photo: AFM

Malta has experienced a drop in irregular boat arrivals coming from Libya when compared with previous years, according to statistics compiled by the UN Refugee Agency Office in Malta

So far this year 308 individuals have been rescued and brought to Malta by the Armed Forces of Malta. There are also asylum seekers who arrive in Malta through regular means. In 2014, the Office of the Refugee Commission has registered a total of around 560 new asylum claims, some of them having arrived in 2013.

The drop in arrivals should be seen in the context of Italy's Mare Nostrum Operation, which to date has resulted in more than 85,000 people being rescued and disembarked in Italy.

The increased rescue capacity at sea has saved thousands of lives, but human tragedies continue to occur at a shocking scale. UNHCR estimates that so far this year almost 1000 men, women and children have lost their lives in an attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

The UNHCR mid-year update on asylum trends in Malta reveals that the largest group who were granted international protection in Malta this year are from Somalia (37%), followed by Syrians (29%), Eritreans (17%) and Libyans (9%).

Meanwhile 391 beneficiaries of protection have been resettled to the United States as of end of July, bringing the total number of people resettled or relocated from Malta to more than 2600.

According to UNHCR Malta Representative Jon Hoisaeter the latest statistics update shows that the Italy-led Mare Nostrum Operation has had a very direct impact on the situation in Malta: "There is less pressure on Malta at the moment but this can turn very quickly if there are changes in the current rescue capacity at sea. With the increasingly volatile situation in Libya it is essential to focus on preparedness for different scenarios. This requires well coordinated planning by the authorities with support from international organisations and civil society."

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