What is the situation with unaccompanied minors in Malta?

Arkivji - AFM

A total of 80 individuals were found to be unaccompanied children following an age assessment from the 1st January until the 2nd October 2019.

The previous year, 104 individuals were found to be unaccompanied children.

The information was obtained following a request filed by Newsbook.com.mt under the Freedom of Information Act.

According to separate information obtained from the Ministry of Home Affairs under the Freedom of Information Act, to date, 22 unaccompanied minors from January 2018 have applied for asylum.

Read: Family Minister needs to honour protections to child migrants – academics

Of these 22 applications, 14 cases are still awaiting a decision, while three were closed according to the Dublin procedure. Furthermore, two were granted subsidiary protection while one was granted temporary humanitarian protection.

One applicant has explicitly withdrawn their application under S.L.420.07 which states:

When an applicant explicitly withdraws his application, the Commissioner shall decide either to discontinue the examination or reject the application. A notice to such effect shall be entered in the applicant’s file.

Another applicant has implicitly withdrawn their application under SL 420.07 which states:

When an applicant has implicitly withdrawn or abandoned his application, the Commissioner shall ensure that a decision is taken to either discontinue the examination or, provided that such application is deemed to be unfounded on the basis of an adequate examination of its substance, to reject the application.

According to the European Asylum Support Office which does not collect data on ‘arrivals’ five asylum applicants were unaccompanied minors in 2018. However, the information for 2019 will only be available at the end of the year.

Care orders

Newsbook.com.mt has asked the Ministry for Family how many care orders were issued in favour of unaccompanied minors who were found to be so following an age assessment test. The spokesperson for the Ministry told this newsroom that the questions have been forwarded to the Home Affairs Ministry and the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers.

To date, this question remains unanswered.

Questions were also sent to the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS), asking where these unaccompanied minors are being housed and whether a care order has been issued. The questions were sent on the 9th September and to date, remain unanswered.

Following the incidents at Ħal Far Tent Village, it emerged that a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old, both from Sudan and now in preventive custody, were at the open centre.

Newsbook.com.mt is reliably informed that there are at least two other 15-year-olds at Ħal Far Open Centre.

In a statement on Thursday, the Government said that there are no unaccompanied minor asylum seekers under the age of 16 formally residing at the Ħal Far Tent Village. “Since AWAS abides by the EU Reception Conditions Directive” the statement reads.

However, a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old were among those hauled inside a courtroom and arraigned with other residents from Ħal Far Tent Village in connection to the Ħal Far protest staged on Sunday which ended up turning violent.