UNHCR's overall objective in Malta is to advocate for access to protection on appropriate terms, and promote durable solutions for all persons of concern. The engagement of the office is built on the premise that Malta - a developed country and an EU member state - is primarily responsible for managing asylum and refugee affairs in the country. On this understanding, UNHCR's main areas of activity can be categorized as follows:
• Monitoring the access to protection and conditions of asylum in Malta.
• Advocating for a protection sensitive asylum system and related policies.
• Strengthening the capacities of government and partner agencies.
• Improving the availability of durable solutions, including resettlement and local integration.
• Increasing the general awareness about asylum issues in the country.
UNHCR has increased its outreach to the refugee community, promoting participation in all matters relating to their situation. UNHCR Malta has developed capacity to engage more broadly with national NGOs active in the area of migration and asylum. Projects are implemented to benefit vulnerable groups such as women and children. Proactive engagement with the Government and relevant authorities is crucial in order to make further progress for persons of concern, in particular as regards self-reliance and local integration possibilities. Activities to improve the general public's access to relevant information is another high priority for the office.
UNHCR continues to pursue a comprehensive and strategic approach to durable solutions, including through efforts to provide and facilitate resettlement opportunities and promote local settlement. Resettlement and relocation of refugees provides Malta with opportunities to make progress also in improving the situation for those who remain in the country.
UNHCR supports the Maltese government's efforts to improve the management of returns. The office advocates for an approach based on a preference for voluntary returns, however, it is acknowledged that forced