Cyprus Mail

Almost 50 refugees put ashore near Pyrgos, asylum applications up 55 per cent this year

File photo: CNA

A boat with 47 refugees from Syria arrived near Pyrgos just after midnight. The vessel allegedly came from Turkey and turned back after leaving the refugees on the coast.

First reports say there are two women and one minor among the refugees. One of the women who is six-months pregnant was taken to Paphos hospital as a precaution, examined and released.

They were then taken to a police station to record their identities and then taken to the Kokkinotrimithia facility in Nicosia.

The latest arrivals come only a day after Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides said the island was under stress due to the refugee crisis. Petrides said it needed to be tackled collectively by EU member states.

Addressing an event of the Monitoring Committees of the EU Home Affairs Funds 2014 – 2020, in Nicosia, on Tuesday, Petrides said Cyprus had always been a host country for refugees. Lately, however, there was a steady and increasing trend of irregular migrant flows, with Cyprus ranking first in arrivals among EU member states, in relation to its population, he said.

He added that during the first eight months of 2018, applications for international protection status were up by 55 per cent compared with the same period in 2017.

According to the minister, during this period a total of 4,022 applications were filed in the Republic of Cyprus, compared to 2,600 petitions in the first eight months of 2017, after recording an increase of 56 per cent in 2016.

Increased flows also mean increased challenges which the country is called to tackle, the minister said.

Petrides noted the disproportionate pressure the island was being put under, Cyprus’ small size, demographics, and the country’s vicinity to a volatile region among the factors which call for vigilance.

The government, he added, tries to cover a significant part of the financial obligations from European funds, which are being monitored by the ministry’s European Funds Unit.

In the 2014-2020 period, two national programmes are being implemented with European funding from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and the Internal Security Fund. The minister assured finally that every effort was being made in order to absorb EU funds and achieve substantial results.

(CNA contributed to this report)


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