Cyprus says migrant boat from Syria and Lebanon has been escorted ashore – Naharnet


Cypriot police said a boatload of 61 migrants believed to have come from Syria and Lebanon, including 28 children, were landed in Paphos on the east coast of the island.

Data showed that EU member Cyprus was facing “demographic change” and “acute socio-economic impacts” as a result of the migrant crisis, said government spokesman Marios Pelekanos.

“An application is being made to the European Commission for action in favor of the Republic of Cyprus, including the right to suspend asylum applications from people entering the country illegally,” he told reporters.

The Republic of Cyprus says it has the highest number of first-time asylum applications of any EU-27 based on its population of around one million.

It accuses Turkey of orchestrating the crisis by allowing irregular migrants to come from the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

Cyprus has been divided since mainland Turkish troops invaded the north in 1974 after a Greek-Cypriot coup by the ruling junta in Athens attempted to unite the island with Greece.

The 180 km long Green Line has since divided the island from east to west and separates the Republic of Cyprus, the easternmost member of the European Union, from the self-proclaimed TRNC, which is only recognized by Ankara.

Migrant flows recorded in Cyprus in 2021 were 38 percent higher than all of the previous year, Pelekanos said.

In the first 10 months of the year, 10,868 irregular migrants arrived in Cyprus, 9,270 had illegally crossed the island’s dividing line in a “deliberate policy prescribed by Turkey,” he said.

The current flows would add to the more than 33,000 people who were already illegally in the republic, added the government spokesman.

“The percentage of asylum seekers exceeds four percent of the population, while it does not exceed one percent in the other EU frontier countries,” said Pelekanos.

His remarks came after ministers agreed on a range of measures to combat the rise in irregular migration at an emergency meeting chaired by President Nicos Anastasiades.

Nicosia expects “EU solidarity for the immediate resettlement of asylum seekers to other member states, but also the return of asylum seekers to their countries of origin,” said Pelekanos.

According to the government, asylum applications have been rejected by 15,000 people but cannot be deported because there is no coherent EU policy or an agreement with their home countries on return.

Pelekanos said Cyprus has asked the European Commission to offer emergency measures to address a “worsening situation”.


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