The new U.S. ambassador to Malta has said farewell to 27 Somali and Eritrean refugees headed to the United States under a refugee resettlement program.

Since 2007, 985 refugees have been resettled in the United States from the island nation of Malta, which struggles to integrate refugees who reach its shores, mostly from Northern Africa. This year alone, the United States has accepted 174 third-country nationals from Malta.

The farewell on Wednesday was the first public event for U.S. Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, who took the post May 2.

She pledged to make sure that the refugee resettlement program remains active as part of the United States' `'commitment to welcome refugees and provide a safe haven to those most in need."