A total of 1,699 people were rescued at sea and disembarked in Malta in the first six months of 2020, according to the UN’s refugee agency in Malta. This translates to a 33% increase in arrivals when comparing figures of the same period last year, despite Malta’s closure of ports from April to June to fight COVID-19.
Arrivals peaked in the first two months of this year, with 989 people rescued in Malta’s search and rescue zone. March saw 146 arrivals, while only 66 disembarked in April, the same month in which Malta’s ports were closed to address the pandemic.
Despite the cut-off of safe entry into ports, at least 425 people were rescued in four different SAR operations and dubiously kept on government-chartered vessels until the first week of June.
Over a third of migrants hailed from Sudan while Bangladesh, Somalia, Eritrea, Cote d’Ivoire were the other most common nationalities.
As of June, there were 1,490 people residing in Malta’s open centres, 1,653 in the detention centres and 321 in the initial reception centre in Marsa.
In terms of demographics, most people who arrived in between January and June of 2020 were adult men (69%), followed by unaccompanied children (24%) and adult women (5%). Accompanied children were the least common group, making up just 2% of total arrivals.
When it comes to decisions for asylum applications, the majority of cases were closed and not followed through for reasons including that they were inadmissible or explicitly withdrawn.
There were 777 decisions made on asylum applications during the year, which equates to less than half of total arrivals in 2020. 144 applications were rejected while 167 were granted some form of protection.
You can find the full fact sheet by UNHCR Malta here.