A group of 17 refugees from Eritrea and Somalia left Malta this morning to begin a new life in the United States.

This brings the total number of refugees who have been resettled to the US this month to 37, and the total resettled since the programme began to 340.

At a reception for the refugees hosted by the US Embassy last week, US ambassador Douglas Kmiec reiterated the US government’s commitment to help ease the burden that migration placed on Malta.

He also commented on the EU’s pilot programme for resettling irregular immigrants from Malta, recently launched by EU Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot.

The Ambassador said the recent news that six EU countries pledged to resettle refugees from Malta was “a promising start,” but added, “I hope that more of Malta’s EU neighbors will show their support by signing up to the resettlement initiative.”

Once they arrive in the US, each refugee will be assigned a sponsor agency that provides initial services such as housing, food, and clothing, as well as referral to medical care, employment services, and other support during a transition period lasting up to two years in order to ensure integration and assimilation.

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