PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS AND EQUALITY AND THE MINISTRY FOR HOME AFFAIRS AND NATIONAL SECURITY: Euros 2 million project co-financed by EU Funds allocated to implement the national migrant integration strategy and action plan

The Ministry for European Affairs and Equality and the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security hosted a joint conference in which a consortium of researchers launched their findings on policymaking in a culturally diverse Europe.

Minister for European Affairs and Equality Helena Dalli announced a Euros 2 million project co-financed by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), entitled ‘Learning Exchanging Integrating’ which will be administered by the Human Rights and Integration Directorate within the Ministry. This project will be supporting the implementation of the national migrant integration strategy and action plan, which was launched by the Ministry for European Affairs and Equality three months ago.

Minister Dalli explained that the project will enable the Directorate to bring on board a number of integration officers whose job will be to meet directly with migrants who are interested in the services of the Integration Unit and to direct them to the first stage of the ‘I Belong Programme’. This includes Maltese, English and cultural orientation classes, conducting awareness campaigns and implementing several, other measures listed in the action plan.

We are pleased that our investment in policymaking and planning now led to the rolling out of the promised integration services over the coming months, she held.

Dr Dalli said that to some extent, this government is pioneering locally in the field of integration governance because previous integration frameworks were tied exclusively to the integration of beneficiaries of international protection, whereas this time round the government is addressing integration in a much wider sense.

Minister Dalli thanked the researchers for the studies they brought to the table and highlighted that these, together with the general discussion regarding the management of diversity in various sectors will prove useful in national efforts to ensure inclusion and integration of recent migrants. She held that by listening to different views, one can address emerging problems at source by working on preventing them rather than looking for a cure.

Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Michael Farrugia said that there are two scenarios of migration – the existing conflicts in African countries where people end up fleeing away from their own country and the scenario of global warming. Minister Farrugia mentioned that Malta has been dealing with migration for more than a decade since the island is situated in the central Mediterranean. According to the latest report by Eurostat, Malta has the fourth largest number of asylum applications per capita when compared to other EU member states.

Minister Farrugia maintained that the political scenario in Europe is changing towards the extreme right and the issue of xenophobia is on the rise. Recently, even in Malta, we have heard prominent politicians speaking against foreigners when these same people are part of our booming economy, being legal migrants. This is worrying many people of good will.

The key issue is integration. The Minister said that to successfully integrate asylum seekers, there should be a completely supported and integrated system. He announced that the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS) is embarking on recruiting professionals to work within a new section called ‘Psychosocial Interventions Multidisciplinary Team’ and offer therapeutic, psychological, counselling, psycho-social, family, and child therapeutic services to asylum seekers in all open centres.

The Minister concluded that since January 2018, the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security has embarked on an initiative aimed towards building a strong constructive relationship with local NGOs and with migrant communities to understand their needs and challenges. This open dialogue is important to ensure that the challenges and issues faced by certain individuals are given the required attention and to ensure that the security issues felt today do not develop into larger social problems in the future.

Dr Gordon Sammut mentioned that Maltese opinions and attitudes are highly similar to European attitudes and highlight shared concerns. He added that there are also differences across European countries that reflect diverse geopolitical concerns. In Malta’s case, the local population regards trade as a positive aspect of intercultural integration.

Source: Government of Malta