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Asylum seekers in Malta to be prevented from working if hailing from "safe countries"

Migrants at Hal Far hanger in Malta. Photo Wikimedia

A new law introduced by the Maltese authorities requests newly arrived asylum seekers to survive for up to nine months on bread and water while waiting for a decision from the International Protection Office (IPA).

In a press release issued on Friday, theMalta Refugee Council called upon the Ministry of Home Affairs to revoke its decision to amend the law which used to give ways for asylum seekers and failed asylum seekers to earn their living by working while waiting for a final decision to be taken on their application.

We are extremely concerned about a new policy that is denying people the possibility of working and earning a living. It is clear that this decision will deprive hundreds of people, including families, of the income necessary to secure a minimum level of human dignity and self-reliance. Already vulnerable to labour exploitation, including wages far below the minimum wage, asylum-seekers and failed asylum-seekers will be pushed further into the dark as they will inevitably clutch at any opportunity to secure basics such as shelter, food and water, clothing, services and transport in order to survive.

The amendement is directed at specific group of people coming from the so-called "safe countries". A terminology that describes those nations listed as not at war, where citizens do not risk immediate life-threatening situations according to the EU and whose immigration is therefore considered unnecessary.

The council expressed its concern on the consequences and implications of the law which "will leave these communities no other options than resorting to extreme labour exploitation, criminal or other irregular activity, or dependence on the material support provided by non-State entities such as NGOs, friends and social networks, and the Church".

The full text of the press release can be read here

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