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27 boats with 1,890 irregular immigrants arrived last year - NSO

A total of 27 boats carrying 1,890 irregular immigrants, the second highest number in a decade, arrived in Malta last year, the National Statistics Office said.

The NSO said in a statement that an increase of 19.7 per cent was recorded in the number of irregular immigrants arriving by boat last year when compared to the previous year.

Nearly a third arrived in May. Almost all visitors were of African origin with Somalis amounting to 65.2 per cent. A quarter were Eritreans.

The NSO said that last year, the Office of the Refugee Commissioner filed 2,080 new applications for international protection – an increase of 10 per cent over the previous year.

More than half were males aged between 18 and 34.

The majority of these applicants, 90.5 per cent, were Africans, of whom 66.3 per cent were Somalis and 23.1 per cent Eritreans. Another 9.1 per cent originated from Asia, predominantly Syria (80.4 per cent).

The office processed 1,590 applications: 90.1 per cent were granted a positive decision, while the remaining applications were rejected. The largest share of applicants granted asylum were of African origin.

An increase of 35.6 per cent was registered in the resident population of Open Centres and other institutional households. The majority, or 75.1 per cent, of people residing in Open Centres lived in Ħal Far, a further 18 per cent in Marsa.

Nearly three-quarters of all residents were males with more than half being Somalis.

Last year, 2,256 people were found to be in Malta illegally. This was 30.6 per cent more than in the previous year.

Of those found to be in Malta illegally, 568 were returned to their country of origin - 71 per cent to African countries, predominantly Libya.

During 2012, 195 persons were refused entry at the Maltese air border. In 27.2 per cent of the cases, they were stopped because their purpose and conditions of stay were not justified.

Another 25.6 per cent had no sufficient means of subsistence and 22.1 per cent had no valid visa or residence permit.

Last year, 420 third-country nationals were resettled in another country – 76 more than in 2011. Another 39 benefitted from assisted voluntary return programmes.

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