Malta. EU Refugee Commissioner Cecilia Malmström visited
Malta on 30 April. Malmström, who had previously criticized
Malta's treatment of refugee children, visited internment
camps where children are often forced to live with adults in
difficult conditions. According to aid organizations, asylum
seekers also lack access to care and school.
COUNTRYAAH, the refugee commissioner, among other things, spoke with
Malta's Prime Minister on EU support to improve the
conditions of the refugees. She described the situation in
the camps as "depressing". In Swedish media, Malmström said
that Swedish authorities should stop sending unaccompanied
asylum-seeking children to Malta because of the way the
children are treated. However, the Migration Board continued
to reject unaccompanied children to Malta in 2010.
Due to its geographical location, Malta has in recent
years received large flows of refugees, most of whom come
from North Africa in small boats. Although the refugees
usually have a different destination than Malta, they must
seek asylum in Malta, and they will be rejected if no other
EU country wants to receive them. Since it is about
children, Sweden has the right to make exceptions to EU
rules and not to send the refugee children back to Malta,
Malta has received harsh criticism from, among others,
Amnesty International and the UN for its treatment of asylum
seekers, and has in turn demanded more help from the EU to
cope with receiving the refugees which it thinks are
Refugee flows from Africa to Malta, as well as to the
Canary Islands, declined sharply in 2010, compared with the
previous year. The reason was the EU's increased coastal
surveillance in the Mediterranean and Italy's return
agreement with Libya. Instead, more and more refugees
entered via Greece.
Malta's population has major obesity problems, a health
statistics report for 31 European countries released by the
European Commission and the OECD in early December showed.
All countries participating in the study have problems with
increasing obesity among the population and Malta belongs to
the countries with the highest proportion of obese people.
More than one in five Maltese suffer from obesity. Almost
every third child is overweight or obese, according to the