NGO reaction to the revisions to the Specific Residence Authorisation policy
We are extremely disappointed to read the revisions made by the Government to the 2018 Specific Residence Authorisation policy. Instead of “reducing social exclusion among migrant communities and recognising the efforts of those migrants who are actively contributing to our society” the revisions will destroy the hard-earned integration efforts of hundreds of migrants. The revised policy will result in people in Malta remaining undocumented and being denied access to the most basic rights. This will exacerbate the pain of so many men, women and children.
Two years ago, we welcomed the policy on Specific Residence Authorisation (SRA) as a unique opportunity to integrate migrants who have lived and worked in Malta for many years, granting them stability and security. We had commented “that the SRA policy is a clear acknowledgement by the relevant authorities of the personal, social, financial and other contributions made by so many migrants in Malta. In doing so, Malta is taking a bold step towards fostering a truly inclusive society.”
Yesterday we launched the research report Struggling to Survive: An investigation into the Risk of Poverty among Asylum-Seekers in Malta. The report is a joint initiative with JRS Malta, and based on data collected from over 80 interviews with refugees and other migrants.
Our findings are quite staggering, indicating that 80% of refugees in Malta are living in poverty. Contributing factors include difficulties find stable and regular employment, low wages, high rent prices, insufficiency of social welfare support, language barriers, and limited childcare possibilities. The situation of refugee women is of particular concern.
Main recommendations include:
- use the Minimum Essential Budgets concept as a guiding benchmark;
- increase statutory minimum wage;
- strengthen social security benefits;
- broaden the scope of employment support services, with a particular focus on refugee women;
- regulate temporary employment;
- implement a national integration programme;
- prioritise individual need over status, when determining social welfare support eligibility;
- engage in further research into the theme.
The report, part of the broader Project Integrated, was published with the support of UNHCR and the Malta Community Chest fund.
It may be downloaded here (.pdf).