Cyprus was on Thursday expecting to receive the first group of refugees, six people, as part of its obligations to accept a total of 509 under the EU distribution and relocation programme for immigrants arriving in Italy and Greece.
Representatives of the ministries of interior and foreign affairs, the asylum service, civil defence and the head of the office of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Cyprus, were to welcome the six beneficiaries, at Larnaca airport.
A statement said: “The Republic of Cyprus, consistent with its commitments under the European Union’s efforts and its member states to manage the migration crisis, but also to support member states facing disproportionate migratory pressures, welcomes today the first group of people in the context of the implementation of the relocation program…”.
The six refuges had applied for asylum in Greece, the announcement said, and were travelling to Cyprus after cooperation with the Greek authorities and IOM.
“According to the European agenda, which was agreed at the level of Heads of State, member states are invited to actively join in the efforts. On the basis of the fundamental principle of solidarity, the Republic of Cyprus is committed to welcome 509 people in total by the end of 2017…”, the announcement said.
The 509 asylum seekers will be arriving gradually, and not as one group. Upon arrival, the refugees are expected to be taken to the Kofinou reception centre for asylum seekers. The facility near Larnaca has the capacity to accommodate 409 people.