NGOs call for asylum-seekers to be immediately disembarked before relocation agreements

NGOs have called for a permanent system of disembarkation and relocation of asylum-seekers rescued in the Mediterranean

Several NGOs have criticised Maltese authorities for forcing migrants to wait in 'inhumane' detention centres before they are relocated to other countries
Several NGOs have criticised Maltese authorities for forcing migrants to wait in 'inhumane' detention centres before they are relocated to other countries

Asylum-seekers should be allowed to disembark at once after their rescue without waiting for a relocation agreement to be secured, a number of NGOs have said.

In a statement ahead of a ministerial meeting on migration, several NGOs have urged the meeting participants to put an end to waiting-time at sea and to ensure that a permanent system of disembarkation and relocation of asylum-seekers rescued in the Mediterranean is put into place.

A grouping of Europe’s ministers will be meeting in Malta on Monday to discuss a joint document on migrant landings, hosted by home affairs minister Michael Farrugia.

"The current ad hoc system whereby relocation is negotiated on a ship-by-ship basis is neither humane nor sustainable. Furthermore, it is imperative that rescued asylum-seekers are always treated in a manner that fully respects their dignity and fundamental rights," the NGOs wrote.

The same group of NGOs had previously said that the ongoing detention of migrants for alleged medical reasons was unlawful.

"We are particularly concerned at Malta’s treatment of rescued persons in the Initial Reception Centre and in Safi Detention Centre. We have already expressed our concerns regarding the lawfulness of the detention of those who have been detained on medical grounds for weeks on end. Beyond this, both centres are over-crowded and living conditions are abysmal.

"Whilst we fully appreciate Malta’s challenges in receiving relatively large numbers of asylum-seekers in a short time, we cannot endorse an approach that leaves people locked up for weeks, without a valid reason at law, and treats them with such disregard for their humanity. It is simply unacceptable that this approach is tolerated by a European Union built on values of solidarity, humanity and dignity," the NGOs wrote.

They called for the provision of effective solidarity with Italy and Malta by ensuring the swift transfer of asylum-seekers and by providing financial support towards the urgent improvement of reception conditions.

The NGOs who signed the statement are: aditus foundation, African Media Association, Blue Door English, Integra Foundation, Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta), Malta Emigrants’ Commission, Migrant Women Association (Malta), Moviment Graffitti, Office of the Dean of the Faculty of Education, SOS Malta and Syrian Solidarity in Malta.

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