These 22 children face being deported from Malta just before Christmas because their parents do not earn enough money and locals are working to raise funds to keep them on the island.
The 22 Serbian children, as young as two years old, have been refused residence permits in Malta because their families did not satisfy the financial requirements to keep the youngsters in the country.
The Maltese authorities have reportedly sent out letters refusing the residence permits of the 22 children, asserting that as of the date of receipt of these letters, the minors would be in Malta illegally, and need to leave the country.
According to reports, their parents do not satisfy the financial requirements of a policy which requires third-country nationals to earn 19,000 EUR (16,102 GBP) a year, as well as 3,800 EUR (3,220 GBP)extra for each child.
Maltese Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli told reporters that the decision had been made to ensure that no children are “held back”, saying that some of the families would only have 150 EUR a month live on after National INsurance and rent were taken from their income.
According to the local media, the parents have formed a group called ‘Parents in Malta’ and have twice headed to the Identity Malta Agency demanding the authorities to accept their applications or give them written proof of their refusal, once in September and another time this month.
Anja Trifunovic is one of the mothers involved and she stated for local media: “The kids are desperate, they cry, they understand everything. Many more children were given rejections than were reported in the media. All the parents are in the same position, we have work permits, we pay taxes and contributions, our children go to school here, they are used to it.”
She and her family came to Malta in April this year, looking for a better life.
She added: “Since September we have tried to contact the relevant institutions in Malta, as well as the Commissioner for Children’s Rights. In the end, one parent was told that they could do nothing, that this was the law of the Immigration Department”
The Serbian authorities are reportedly working to have the decision delayed until after Orthodox Christmas (7th January).
Ivica Dacic the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia stated: “We asked them to look at the whole situation again. I spoke on the phone with my colleague Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela, he promised to convey this to the Government of Malta. What is certain is that no action will be taken before the Christmas and New Year holidays “
Meanwhile, Maltese media report professionals working with children have strongly condemned the threat of expulsion of the 22 children from Malta and prominent locals have come together to help the youngsters.
According to local media, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Tenor Joseph Calleja, the Mimici Foundation and members of the public have stepped in to help the children financially so that they can be kept legally in Malta with their parents.
Maltas’s Employment Minister Evarist Bartolo said the efforts to raise funds are not what the children need as they require stable, higher incomes for their families.
Malta, which has a population of about 493,000, has a significant Serbian community. According to media reports from 2018, more than 2,000 of the 10,974 first-time residence permits that the government issued in 2017 went to Serbian nationals.
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Story By: Ana Marjanovic, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
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