[WATCH] €23 million fund for asylum, migration and integration launched

Fund to target education in culture and languages as well as more efficient asylum claims processing

Parliamentary secretary Ian Borg. Photo: Ray Attard
Parliamentary secretary Ian Borg. Photo: Ray Attard

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The asylum, migration and integration programme of funds for 2014-2020 will target better processing of applications, education for those granted asylum and more efficient returns policies, parliamentary secretary for EU Funds Ian Borg said earlier today.

"The fund is aimed both at helping processing of asylum claims and in the integration of those recognized as refugees."

Borg explained that the new fund amounted to €23 million, €17 million of which were EU funds.

"This presents an additional €2million over the previous €15 million package of EU funds," he said, adding that the EU had also contributed some €4 million to Malta in emergency funds throughout the previous time frame (2007-2013), and that it was naturally open to doing so during the upcoming seven-year period.

He said the new programme could finance measures like a better infrastructure as well as better medical screening for arrivals. 

Borg also explained that the fund would go towards education programmes both in Maltese and English languages and in the culture of the country to support better integration.

Borg said that the fund would also assist in the returns policy for those who qualify as economic refugees and who are therefore not entitled to protection on our shores.

"This point will also be discussed during the Valletta summit in a few weeks," he said, adding that discussions into improving the situation in countries of origin would be essential during the important meetings.

Permanent secretary for the European affairs minsistry, Paul Zahra said the fund is particularly important to NGOs and entities in the sector to ensure that funds are used effectively to improve operations in the sector.

Zahra stressed that the fund would be divided in three main sectors; asylum, integration and returns policy, with just under €10 million of EU funds going into reception and evaluation and resettlement programmes, over €3 million of EU funds going into integration programmes and just under €2 million of EU funds going into return policies.

Director General of EU Funds and programmes Raphael Scerri also pointed out that the upcoming package of funds was different from its predecessor because it would allow projects to be distributed over more than a year, and funds would not be provided on an annual basis only.

Scerri also explained that the new fund aimed to build on and improve initiatives started under the previous package, including education programmes for children, as well as initiatives with the health sector for the provision of nurses.

“The first call for applications has been opened today and will be open until the 27th November,” Scerri said, adding that an information session for interested parties would be held on the 11th November. He further explained that the government aimed to open other calls by the beginning of next year.

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Scerri added that the calls launched today are for projects implementing integration measures for third country nationals and voluntary return measures.

"These two calls for proposals, are open to non-governmental organisations and other organisations," he said, adding that other calls were also launched which directly target the activities of specific entities, such as the Ministry for Education with regard to educational measures undertaken for third country nationals, the office of the Commissioner for Refugees to support asylum processes, and the Immigration Police in relation to activities of forced return.