Malta rescued 380 irregular migrants last year, repatriated 315 to their country and relocated a further 159 to other EU countries, the home affairs minister told parliament on Monday.

"These results mean that during 2023, there were more irregular migrants who left Malta than there were arrivals," Camilleri told parliament in reply to a parliamentary question by Nationalist MP Joe Giglio. 

He said that during the same period, 1,391 third-party nationals were found to be staying in Malta illegally and were returned to their country of origin or their country of residence.

Camilleri said this was a process which started before 2023 and stemmed from key decisions taken by the government, including legislative amendments to ensure that the migration system was both firm and fair.

Malta', he said, had worked closely with neighbouring countries, countries of origin and countries of transit to ensure there were fewer arrivals and fewer lives were lost at sea.

The migration system was now fair with those deserving of protection, but firm with those who had no right to stay in Malta. The new measures had seen investment in the asylum process including the setting up of the International Protection Agency and the Returns Unit. The former focused on pending asylum and protection applications and the latter on returning those people who had no right to stay in Malta.

The minister said extensive works had also been made on migration centres while ensuring that no pressures were placed on neighbouring communities.  

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