The new Prime Minister of Malta has called on the European Union to introduce new immigration policies, stating that the island is being overwhelmed with the number of asylum seekers settling in the country.
In 2012, there were 21.7 applicants for asylum per 1,000 inhabitants in Malta, meaning that, in proportion with its population, the country takes in more asylum-seekers than any other European nation.
“We’ve been left alone. We need a coherent EU policy. Empty talk on solidarity is not enough,” said Joseph Muscat, the country’s new PM. “If there are not European rules on pushing back or pushing forward, the situation is unsustainable.”
According to data revealed in The Times of Malta, around 1,000 boat people arrived in Malta during the first six months of this year.
Under current EU laws, asylum seekers must stay in the country where they first enter Europe until their application is reviewed. Malta’s location means that many asylum seekers from Libya and other war-torn North African nations land there when crossing the Mediterranean.
In Spite of Muscat’s desire to see changes made to the immigration laws, however, the Prime Minister denies that he is xenophobic, stating that he is in favour of the integration of immigrants and continuing to form a multi-cultural society.