Updated at 4.10pm: Adds UN Refugee Agency's statement
Malta’s first-ever Migrant Integration Strategy and Action Plan was launched this afternoon, introducing frameworks aimed at helping improve the integration of migrants.
Addressing a press conference on Friday afternoon, Equality Minister Helena Dalli said that migrant integration was crucial if migration was to be capitalised upon.
Outlining the action plan for the next two years, Dr Dalli said that the strategy will seek to ensure that migrants learn about the country’s values, standards and culture, which is crucial for structured integration.
“While we know of integration that has worked, we are also aware that this is not always the case and we must make sure that there isn’t haphazard integration,” Dr Dalli said.
Human Rights and Integration Unit director Silvan Aguis said that the action plan will be open to all migrants and will be mainstreamed. This would ensure that the services will be offered in tandem with other services offered to other members of society.
“We will also be setting up and Integration Unit headed by Alex Tortell. The unit will take requests by the migrants. This will be a voluntary initiative, so no migrant will be forced to sign up,” the director said.
Aside from migrants' language needs, the strategy would also help prepare those planning to apply for permanent residence.
A landmark achievement for Malta - UN Refugee Agency
The UN Refugee Agency welcomed the strategy and action plan as a landmark achievement for Malta.
"This is a welcome step in the right direction for Malta and augurs well for a more inclusive society," it said.
Malta had made progress in a number of areas but more support should be allocated to localities that may be facing challenges.
The reasons could be varied and they needed to be understood and addressed in a holistic manner.
The agency noted that although there were many refugees who were doing well and contributing to Malta’s success, there were others who were struggling.
The process of integration, it said, was complex and gradual, comprising distinct but interrelated legal, economic, social and cultural dimensions.
This strategy and the action plan aimed to foster the development of skills potential among refugees and migrants and address labour needs in the national economy.