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Children and Migrants with Temporary Humanitarian Protection

Data tal-Pubblikazzjoni: Diċ 02, 2016

European and international law is very clear on the principle that migrants fleeing a situation of civil strife or personal persecution by the state of their country of origin should be accorded protection in the country of reception, meaning that they should be allowed to live and work in the country of reception in a regular manner.  

The granting of ‘Temporary Humanitarian Protection’ (THP) by the Maltese authorities to those migrants who did not qualify for any form of international protection but who were not repatriated within a short period from their irregular entry into Malta was half a step in the right direction towards giving these migrants and their families some form of regular status that would legitimise their long-term stay in Malta.

However, THP is inherently flawed because it is a temporary status, meaning that migrants can never accede to a more definite status no matter for how long they would have been living, working and raising their children in Malta and also since it is not enshrined in law.

The decision recently announced by Government not to renew THP to migrants who have been in Malta for a very long time reveals the weaknesses of the policy. Such a decision should not be retroactive.

The Office believes that not only should migrants who have settled in Malta and integrated in Maltese society have their THP renewed but that they should be given a more definite and permanent status.   

The fact that some of these migrants have given birth to and are raising children in Malta is a clear sign that Malta is their actual home. The Office believes that it is in the best interest of these migrant children for the status of the entire family unit to be regularised, since this safeguards the children’s fundamental right to a family life.

The pathway that is set out should include citizenship as a right that migrant families with children should be able to accede to at some point in the course of their lives in Malta.

This pathway should not be limited to those children who are born in Malta but equally to those migrant children who were born in other countries but who have settled and integrated here whether or not they enjoy international protection.

Progress has been made especially in terms of the reception conditions of child migrants, who are no longer being detained pending administrative and medical clearance. However, a lot more needs to be done to facilitate the integration of child migrants and their families. This cannot happen if they are allowed to live in Malta for years with the threat of a condition of statuslessness and possible deportation hanging over their heads.