History of UNHCR

UNHCR is the recipient of the 1954 Nobel Peace Prize for its work in helping the refugees of Europe.


The Republic of Malta is an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, 80 km south of Sicily and 284 km east of Tunisia. It is a member of the European Union and the Eurozone.

Malta is a signatory to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol since 1971. It officially lifted its geographical reservation on 13 December 2001.

Malta is not yet a signatory to any of the UN Statelessness Conventions.


The UNHCR Malta office opened in 2005 and falls under the regional office of Rome. The office’s first challenge was to meet the high influx of boat arrivals from the Libyan coast heading for the European mainland.

UNHCR also works closely with the Maltese government, social partners and a number of local organisations and NGOs not only to find durable solutions for refugees and beneficiaries of protection in Malta, but also to advocate and work towards improved access to protection and conditions of asylum in Malta; an increased protection-sensitive asylum system and related policies; to strengthen the capacities of government and partner agencies; and to increase general awareness about asylum issues in the country.

UNHCR staff in Malta

After spending the initial years working with just two officials, in 2009 it was agreed to increase UNHCR’s capacity in Malta.

The posts are: Administration/finance, Protection, Durable Solutions and Public Information.

A number of consultants are also employed with UNHCR Malta.

UNHCR representative to Malta

The UNHCR Representative to Malta is Kahin Ismail (from 2017).

Previously the representatives in Malta were Beat Schuler (2016 – 2017 ) and Jon Hoisaeter (2009 – 2016 )