By Peter Stevenson
Police carried out one of their largest operations on Thursday as 55 Bangladeshi nationals, who were illegally on the island, were deported.
A total of 115 officers were escorting the foreign nationals back to Bangladesh on a charter flight, leaving from Larnaca Airport around 2pm.
“The number of officers was deemed necessary and is in line with EU regulations with every foreign national requiring two escorts,” Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said.
The security measures were deemed necessary, he added, to provide safe passage to the foreign nationals, their escorts and the crew of the aircraft. All the foreign nationals gave their written consent to be returned to their homeland.
“It is one of our most important operations and has been extensively planned,” Angelides said.
The police spokesman added that the foreign nationals were being held at the Menoyia detention centre and that they agreed to their deportation.
It is the fourth such operation but Thursday’s was by far the biggest, Angelides said, due to the large number being deported and the large police escort.
The migrants were also accompanied by doctors and nurses.
The flight was due to land in Dhaka where the migrants would be handed over to Bangladeshi authorities. The plane is then due to fly to India where the officers will stay the night before returning to Cyprus.
All officers were inoculated for any infectious diseases.
The operation is 95 per cent funded by Frontex, which promotes, coordinates and develops European border management in line with the EU fundamental rights charter applying the concept of Integrated Border Management. Frontex helps border authorities from different EU countries work together. Frontex’s full title is the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union. When Member States make the decision to return foreign nationals staying illegally, who have failed to leave voluntarily, Frontex assists those member states in coordinating their efforts to maximise efficiency and cost-effectiveness while also ensuring that respect for fundamental rights and the human dignity of returnees is maintained at every stage.