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Celebration of International Migrants Day in Malta

Minister Farrugia speaking during the International Day of Migration in Valletta

The annual international migrants day celebration for 2018 was facilitated by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Malta on the 18th December. It was an intellectual engagement-oriented celebration of sort as stakeholders across different nationalities, civil society organisations and government agencies participated in analysing four selected objectives from the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM).

Drawing from their experience in advocacy, bureaucracy and academia, participants were divided into different thematic clusters. The four CGM’s objectives deliberated upon are: (no. 10) Prevent, combat and eradicate trafficking in persons in the context of international migration; (no. 16) Empower migrants and societies to realize full inclusion and social cohesion; (no. 17) Eliminate all forms of discrimination and promote evidence-based public discourse to shape perceptions of migration; and (no. 23) Strengthen international cooperation and global partnerships for safe, orderly and regular migration.

It will be recalled that the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration provides the first international and non-legally binding cooperative framework on migration. It is the result of a comprehensive process of discussions and negotiations among all Member States of the United Nations that started with the New York Declaration in 2016, unanimously adopted at the UN General Assembly in 2016.

Through meaningful engagement and the identification of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT Analysis), participants engaged in context analyses concerning the applicability of the four GCM objectives within the context of Malta. In a second exercise, using the fishbowl methodology, participants then identified most relevant actionable activities pertaining to the selected objectives. These were then presented in plenary, with the pledge from the organisers (IOM) to seek funding and other opportunities to continue working on some or all of the proposals elaborated during the workshop sessions.

The minister gave a hint concerning the possibility of re-introducing the detention policy for asylum seekers in Malta

In his address, the Minister for Home Affairs and National Security, Hon. Michael Farrugia, advocated comprehensive cooperation among the government, local population and migrants with a view to fostering mutual understanding and peaceful co-existence in Malta. According to him, everyone, either those seeking humanitarian status or refugee status, should be given an opportunity for integration.

Hon. Farrugia however emphasised the need for proper integration by learning the local language (Maltese) which is being taught in public schools now along with English language. This, according to him, does not mean that migrants’ children should abandon their native languages: “It is also important they learn English and Maltese because these are the major languages through which people communicate here”.

The minister gave a hint concerning the possibility of re-introducing the detention policy for asylum seekers in Malta adding that the idea is still under discussion, as there is no definite directive yet.

Malta is the most densely populated country in the European Union and has one of the highest concentrations of refugees in the world. One major change that took place in 2015 in its legal and policy framework regarding the reception of asylum seekers was ending the policy of mandatory detention, which had made Malta unique among EU countries.

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