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Eight migrants from Somalia and Eritrea left Malta this afternoon to start a new life in Norway.
This departure is within the framework of the European Union's Reallocation Project for Malta (EUREMA) which was extended last April .
The eight migrants - four adults and a family of four, form part of a group of 30 who were identified by the Norwegian authorities for relocation following a selection mission to Malta towards the end of last year.
The Norwegian authorities will now be assisting the beneficiaries to integrate in their society, a process which was initiated in the past weeks prior to their departure from Malta. The other 22 will be leaving Malta in the coming weeks.
Although not a member of the European Union, Norway is taking part in EUREMA following a commitment made at the mnisterial pledging conference organised by the European Commission in May 2011 for member states and associated countries to assist countries receiving large numbers of asylum seekers.
Other European countries have also committed to relocate beneficiaries of international protection from Malta, in the context of the extension of the EUREMA pilot project, or on a bilateral basis.
These include Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and The Netherlands. A relocation exercise to Germany within the EUREMA framework took place last November, and another to Ireland took place in December.
The Home Affairs Ministry coordinated this exercise with counterparts in Norway.
UNHCR-Malta conducted counselling sessions and referred cases to the Norwegian authorities.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) held cultural-orientation courses, and took care of the logistical preparations related to this departure.
Seeing off the migrants, Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici thanked the Norwegian government for taking part in this project. He said that 360 people who where granted asylum in Malta are being relocated to other EU countries within the framework of the extension of the EUREMA project. Another 227 were relocated in 2010 when EUREMA was launched.
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