Asylum granted to more than half of last year's applicants
Nine boats carrying 1,579 asylum seekers arrived in Malta last year, with applications for asylum reaching 1,891, the National Statistics Office said.
In a statement issued on the occasion of World Refugee Day, the NSO said that a sharp increase in arrivals of asylum seekers was recorded last year - 1,532 more than in 2010.
Of the nine boats that reached the Maltese Islands, more than half arrived in March. Most of the irregular migrants were Africans (96.1 per cent).
During 2011, the Office of the Refugee Commissioner received 1,891 requests for international protection – an increase of 1,715 when compared to 2010. Just under 60 per cent of were filed in April.
A total 87.7 per cent of applicants originated from Africa with more than a quarter having Somali citizenship (27.4 per cent). A further 11.3 per cent were Asians and nearly two-thirds were males aged between 18 and 34.
During the year under review, the Office of the Refugee Commissioner processed 1,606 applications, of which 884 were positive ones.
A majority of the positive decisions were granted in the form of subsidiary protection (814) while 70 applicants were granted refugee status. There were also 722 applications for asylum, or 45 per cent, that were rejected.
A total 46 per cent of the people granted positive decisions were Somalis, while 28.6 per cent were from Eritrea.
Residents registered in Open Centres and other institutional households that hosted irregular migrants decreased by 35.3 per cent when compared to 2010, and numbered 1,289.
More than half the people living in Open Centres resided at Hal Far, while a further 30.8 per cent were living in Marsa. 213 children were among those living in these institutions.
The NSO said that last year, 1,728 people were found to be illegally present in Malta. A majority, or 91.4 per cent, were Africans, while 6.5 per cent were Asians (mainly of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin).
Another two per cent were Europeans (mostly from Ukraine).
A total of 159 third-country nationals, including the 34 Europeans, who were found to be illegally resident in Malta, were returned to their country of origin.