Last year, Malts’s efforts to manage irregular migration resulted in a net outflow of people, with more leaving the country than arriving. While 380 irregular immigrants were rescued in 2023, the island also repatriated 315 and relocated 159 to other EU member states. In addition to the rescued irregular immigrants, Malta also repatriated or relocated 1,391 other third-country nationals who were living in the country without authorisation.
Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri provided this information in response to a parliamentary question during the first parliamentary sitting after the Christmas recess. He emphasised that the government’s efforts to address irregular immigration did not begin in 2023 but stemmed from a desire to improve the existing system. A range of measures, including legislative changes, were implemented to strengthen and streamline the irregular immigration system, both domestically and internationally.
“We have worked closely with countries of origin as well as countries of transit in order to reduce irregular arrivals and ensure that fewer lives are lost at sea,” the Minister pointed out. “We have made changes in order to have a system that is fair with those who deserve protection but tough with those who do not have the right to stay in our country. This was possible through legislative changes and investment in the asylum process, particularly with the creation of the International Protection Agency and the reduction in the amount of pending applications. A Returns Unit was also set up within the Ministry in order to focus on the return to the country of origin of those persons who do not need protection in our country. At the same time, extensive work was done in the immigrant centres, both closed and open, without putting a burden on the surrounding communities, as had happened in the past.”