The refugee reviewing authority will not be accepting any more asylum applications, as these will now be processed by a specialised new court that began operations last week, Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides said on Wednesday.
Speaking after a meeting of the cabinet, Petrides said that new asylum applications will now be handled by the international protection administrative court (IPAC) which began operating on June 18.
The IPAC is tasked with examining appeals relating to provisions of the refugee law, including appeals against rejections of asylum applications.
Petrides said the cabinet decided to suspend the operations of the refugee reviewing authority after July 18 to allow time for processing some 1,700 outstanding asylum applications.
Asylum claims in Cyprus rose 69 per cent between 2017 and 2018, making it number one on the list of top five receiving countries per capita, data from the European Asylum Support Office (Easo) revealed on Monday.
In Cyprus in 2018, some 7,765 people applied for asylum compared with 4,600 in 2017, making Cyprus the top country in terms of per capita applications. In 2014, Cyprus had 1,745 applications, in 2015 it saw 2,265 and in 2016 this rose to 2,940.
Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides revealed only last week that already this year, around 3,000 people seeking asylum had crossed from the north compared with 2,635 for the entirety of 2018 and only 138 who crossed in 2017. He said the situation was becoming impossible to manage and has appealed a number of times to the EU for assistance.