Malta unveils its first-ever migrant integration strategy

Migrants will learn about-the country's values, standards and culture. Although this strategy replaced a highly criticized policy, it is not perfect yet. It fails to specify what happens when an asylum application is rejected. 

Daiva Repeckaite
Daiva Repeckaite NewsMavens, Malta
Malta unveils its first-ever migrant integration strategy - NewsMavens
Refugees. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Malta’s first-ever Migrant Integration Strategy and Action Plan was launched by the Minister for European Affairs and Equality, Helena Dalli, on December 15.

Back in 2015, the government began to consult this strategy aimed at integrating migrants from various backgrounds -- beneficiaries of protection, rejected asylum seekers and labor migrants.

As part of the program, migrants will learn about-the country's values, standards and culture, which the authors believe to be crucial for structured integration. Aside from covering the migrants' language needs, the strategy would also help them apply for permanent residence.

Having criticized the lack of strategy for years, various NGOs claim this one is still not sufficient. It fails to specify what happens when an asylum application is rejected. Numerous migrants are hence forced into a legal limbo, if their home countries do not cooperate in procuring travel documents for them. Then, they are offered a form of tolerated stay that includes a work permit, but cannot serve as a basis for permanent residence.

Let’s hope that the new strategy will inspire the debate on how conscious and effective integration should look like.

Details from the story:

  • After launching a consultation in 2015, the government of Malta has recently adopted its first migrant integration strategy.
  • The strategy encompasses teaching Malta's official languages, cultural norms and laws. It also aims to help migrants who have resided in Malta for over 5 years to obtain permanent residence.
  • The rules for asylum seekers are set out in the Strategy for the Reception of Asylum Seekers and Irregular Migrants (2015). The document ended automatic detention of all persons crossing into the territory of Malta without proper documentation.
  • Malta has the third highest rate per capita of first-time asylum applicants during the third quarter of 2017.
  • A recent study found that many organizations helping migrants were pushed to focus on basic services, such as language and employment training.
  • Another recent study, a survey of 92 rejected asylum seekers, claims that 9 in 10 found employment despite all obstacles.
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