25 APRIL 2022

Ukraine Info: Further info from the International Protection Agency

A representative of the Malta Refugee Council last week met with the CEO of the International Protection Agency. The aim of the meeting was to discuss specific issues relating to Ukrainian nationals in Malta, in particular the Temporary Protection system.

During the meeting, a number of useful points were made.

Temporary Protection versus International Protection

Several Ukrainain nationals have asked us why Malta has strictly stuck to the 24 February 2022 cut-off date for distinguishing between persons eligible for Temporary Protection or International Protection. The EU’s Decision triggering Temporary Protection does in fact indicate this date, but it also allows Member States to adopt a more flexible approach. The EU Commission, in its Guidelines, explicitly states:

“In line with recital 14 of the Council Decision, the Commission strongly encourages Member States to consider extending temporary protection in particular to those who fled Ukraine not long before 24 February 2022 (persons listed under points 1 and 2 above) as tensions increased or who found themselves in the territory of the Union or of another third country (e.g. on holidays or for work or family reasons) just before that date and who, as a result of the armed conflict, cannot return to Ukraine.”

Malta decided to stick to the 24 February cut-off date, meaning persons who fled Ukraine before 24 February 2022 are not entitled to Temporary Protection. When asked if there is room for discussion on this, the IPA made it quite clear that the decision is a final one. 

We believe this is a pity, as there are several situations of Ukrainians who fled before the cut-off date and who are now unable to benefit for the protection regime specifically catering for their situation. We therefore strongly urge the IPA and the Ministry for Home Affairs, Security, Reforms and Equality to consider extending the group of persons eligible to seek Temporary Protection. The cut-off date is artificial and excludes groups of persons who are in genuine need of protection.

Persons affected by the conflict yet who are ineligible for Temporary Protection may apply for International Protection. This is the ‘regular’ situation for persons who feel they are unable to return to their country of origin or of habitual residence. It could lead to a positive decision of either refugee status or subsidiary protection, or a negative decision which may be appealed. See Fact Sheets produced by aditus foundation on the procedure, rights and obligations. 

Whereas Temporary Protection decisions are being taken in a matter of days, which is excellent, decisions on International Protection may take a number of years to be finalised - the current case backlog is under 3,000 but still quite heavy.

Furthermore, Temporary Protection offers more clarity in terms of the eligibility to protection, whilst International Protection entails a deeper and more personalised assessment of a persons’ claim.

When ask whether, if a hypothetical decision would be taken today on an International Protection claim by a Ukrainian asylum-seeker, the IPA replied that it would need to take into account several elements including the nature and degree of conflict in the applicant’s home area. The IPA is constantly monitoring the situation in Ukraine in order to assess the level of possible danger applicants could face if returned.

Other Info

  • The number of Temporary Protection applications is currently in the region of 400, with far less applications for International Protection.
  • The general profile of TP applicants is women with children or elderly persons coming here to reunite with family members who had been already living here for some time. It is clear that this profile of person necessitates a specific response strategy from the authorities, with a focus on language training, support to access employment, access to education for children, psychological support, anti-trafficking measures, pension assistance and housing. We have repeatedly underlined how this coordinated approach is not forthcoming.
  • It is confirmed that TP holders are entitled to and are being issued with residence permits by Identity Malta. Issues have been encountered by applicants who are unable to meet the eligibility requires for a residence permit, such as having their names listed on rental contracts. 

This is a post of several where the Malta Refugee Council will be giving news and updates on the situation of Ukrainians here and on how they may be protected.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any info you would like to share or if you need any assistance.


Established with the kind support of the Dutch Refugee Council