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Cyprus

Turks stop 58 migrants on their way to Cyprus

Syrians detained by police (CM archive)

Fifty eight migrants were arrested by the Turkish coastguard on Sunday reportedly on their way to Cyprus, Turkish Cypriot press said.

Kibris Postasi on Monday said that 58 refugees, three from Syria and 55 from Pakistan, were arrested by the Turkish coastguard in a small fishing vessel.

They had been on their way to Cyprus, it added.

The refugees had embarked from the Manavgat river in Antalya and were arrested off Side.

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said last month authorities had stepped up marine patrols after receiving a tip-off that people smugglers were planning to drop 400 migrants off the north west coast of the island.

He said that having evaluated tips on the likelihood of organised people smuggling to Cyprus, police were patrolling the shoreline off Kato Pyrgos village, in the Tylliria area.

In the same area during the previous two weeks, there had been two incidents involving Syrian immigrants who arrived from Turkey seeking asylum.

Nicolaou revealed that the police had been tipped off that there were approximately another 400 people the smugglers were planning to transport to Cyprus using the same route.

Thirty immigrants of Syrian origin in total had arrived from Mersin, Turkey in the first two weeks of August on two separate occasions.

Nicolaou said the police presence aimed on the one hand to ensure the safety of immigrants and on the other, to arrest and prosecute those who take advantage of the predicament refugees find themselves in and demanding huge payments in order to transport them, effectively acting as human traffickers.

“We believe that there is an organised plan in place and that is why we have taken these strict security measures as well as others so that we can become aware immediately of any boats transporting immigrants,” he said.

Asked whether the measures would become permanent, he said this was something the police would evaluate but did not dismiss the possibility of setting up a permanent police port presence in the Pyrgos area.

 

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