Serbia has asked Malta to delay the ‘eviction’ of 22 children until at least the end of January, when representatives will meet to discuss the issue.

Their Serbian parents living in Malta have been told they do not satisfy the financial requirements to keep their children in the country. 

In a statement, the Serbian Foreign Affairs Ministry appealed for Malta to consider "delaying decision-making on these issues until consular consultations and problem-solving had taken place".

The plight of the children, especially so close to Christmas, has led to an outpouring of calls for authorities to find a solution.

Labour MEP Miriam Dalli is the latest to weigh in, saying "families should never be separated".

On Monday, the Serbian Foreign Affairs Ministry said it has urgently asked the Maltese authorities for information on regulations governing the stay of foreigners,and the procedures needed to regulate the issues raised by working Serbian citizens.

Consular consultations are scheduled for January 27.

"Given the complexity of this issue, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has initiated consular consultations with Malta through the Embassy in Rome, in order to consider this and other issues with the Maltese side and find an appropriate solution," the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement. 

“The Foreign Affairs Ministry has asked the Maltese authorities to consider the possibility of delaying decision-making on these issues until consular consultations and problem-solving had taken place. The Honorary Consul of the Republic of Serbia in Malta was also engaged in resolving this issue."

High-profile financial support

Archbishop Charles Scicluna, tenor Joseph Calleja, the Mimici Foundation and members of the public have stepped in to help the children financially so that they can be kept legally in Malta with their parents. 

At least €20,000 has been pledged so far.

Identity Malta say the children's parents do not satisfy the financial requirements of a policy that requires third country nationals to earn €19,000 a year and €3,800 extra for each child.

The children include a child born in Malta and in possession of a local ID card, who is considered “legal” by all other institutions except Identity Malta.

The Home Affairs Ministry has not yet responded to questions from Times of Malta.

Policies should 'reflect best interests of the child'

The Office of the Commissioner for Children said is "making every effort" to advocate for the children on the basis of the child’s best interests and "legally binding human rights provisions" including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  
 
"Presented with an increasing number of cases the Office has repeatedly put forward its concerns to the relevant authorities and recommends that all policies and practices affecting children should reflect their rights and best interests," it said. 

"The Office would also like to emphasise that the exposure of these children in the media does not necessarily help their cause and may be harmful to them." 

Times of Malta has published the faces of the 22 children affected with the full permission of their parents. 

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