Malta relocates asylum seekers to Finland, Romania

Malta has transferred two groups of migrants to Finland and Romania, the government said in a statement on Wednesday.

The groups, which included several women and children, left on separate flights to the two countries, which accepted to host migrants from Malta as part of the burden-sharing arrangement reached through the European Commission.

Last month, 81 asylum seekers were transferred from Malta to Germany on a flight organized under the European Union’s (EU) resettlement program.

The Maltese government said that more asylum seekers will be relocated to other EU member states by the end of the year.

Malta had accepted to disembark more than 400 migrants from tourist vessels anchored outside the country’s territorial waters pending a solution at the European level.

Malta closed its ports to asylum-seekers in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic and told the EU that it could not conduct rescues at sea. However, it continued to observe its international obligation to rescue people in distress at sea.

On Sept. 23, the European Commission presented a new Pact on Migration and Asylum, setting out a “fairer, more European approach” to managing migration and asylum. It aims to put in place a comprehensive and sustainable policy, providing a humane and effective long-term response to the current challenges of irregular migration by developing legal migration pathways, better integrating refugees and other newcomers, and deepening migration partnerships with countries of origin and transit for mutual benefit.