During 2019, there were 3,405 irregular migrants who arrived in Malta by means of human smuggling through the Central Mediterranean route.
Out of 3,405 migrants, there were only 610 pledges of relocation by European member states for 2019. Out of these, 88 pledges have yet to be kept. The rest, a total of 2,795, remain the sole responsibility of Malta.
Since January 2020, there were 1,222 irregular migrants who arrived in Malta and the Government has asked the European Commission to coordinate relocation pledges. These requests were made on January, February and April 2020.
Until today, only Portugal has pledged to take in a total of 6 migrants.
In addition to the January and February 2020 requests, Malta has now asked for a further relocation of 160 migrants. France has pledged to relocate 30 irregular migrants and the European Commission is coordinating the rest.
The Commission has limited powers to relocate, since pledges are voluntary and dependent on the willingness of other EU member states.
Since 2005, only 8% of migrant arrivals have been relocated to other EU Member States despite arrivals exceeding 21,000. It is worth noting that the United States took twice as much as the total pledges of 27 EU member states since 2005.
Due to the influx of arrivals from last year, there are now 4,000 irregular migrants in centres across the island. That means that almost 1% of the population is made of irregular migrants, some of whom are in detention.
This is, by far, one of Europe’s highest rates and also shows the disproportionate burden that Malta is expected to carry. While Malta has respected to the full its international and European obligations, the principle of European solidarity, which is also enshrined in European legislation, is not being adhered to.
In the meantime, in the first three months of 2020, irregular migrant arrivals through the Central Mediterranean route have increased by 438%. This trend continued in April 2020, with a 300% increase in arrivals compared to the same period last year.