A total of 3,060 migrants have crossed from the occupied areas into the republic so far this year asking for political asylum, Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides said on Friday.
Talking to the Cyprus News Agency, he said the situation has accelerated since 2018 and the problem is extremely serious.
“In only one month, from May 2 until June 2,744 have crossed. In 2017 there were 138, during the whole of 2018 there were 2,625 and this year, by June 2, 3,060,” he said.
Most of them are men and they come in large groups “so it is definitely organised. There are groups from several different countries, so we are definitely talking about networks. There are Syrians as well as people from other nationalities which did not exist in the past, from African countries such as Cameroon and Nigeria, reportedly arriving by air at Tymbou airport.”
It is possible that even the authorities in the north act as traffickers, he added. The refugees themselves talk about the existence of networks, Petrides added, but the Republic of Cyprus cannot do anything about the situation because these are territories not under control of the republic.
According to the interior minister, the EU has been informed by the President and it will be addressed directly to the UN.
“We are also examining the practical application of the Green Line Regulation and what this implies.”
Asked what he means by this, he replied “Let’s just leave it at that.”
There is some help from the EU, but the reception centre where the migrants are registered is overflowing and with the growing numbers it is “extremely difficult if not impossible to deal with the problem.”
Since most of the asylum seekers come from war-torn countries such as Syria, their application for political asylum is usually granted, but the country cannot deal with housing and supplying workplaces for so many people.
The big problem and the difference between Cyprus and other EU member states is that the refugees come from the uncontrolled areas, Petrides reiterated.
“This is why we ask for practical support from the EU. Turkey and the pseudo-state should not have the right to use migrants for political purposes in this way.”