Cyprus Mail

More reception centres to deal with  increased asylum seekers

The Kofinou reception centre

The interior ministry will create one or two more refugee reception centres catering for 1,000 persons to respond to the increased migration flow, Minister Constantinos Petrides said on Wednesday.

The minister, after a meeting with Akel leader Andros Kyprianou on the refugee issue, said that conditions at the Kofinou centre for asylum seekers have improved significantly. The reception centre, which is the only one for asylum seekers at present, hosts 330 though it can cater for 400, the minister said.

“Today not all asylum seekers can be hosted in reception centres since there are 15,000 while another 15,000 have been granted subsidiary protection status and efforts are underway to integrate them in the job market,” Petrides said.

He added that plans are underway with EU assistance to create one or two more reception centres catering for a total of 1,000 people. The ‘Pournara’ temporary reception centre in Kokkinotrimithia is being expanded, he said, while part of it will be reserved only for vulnerable groups.

The minister reiterated however that Cyprus could not host 30 to 40 reception centres and end up another “depository of souls”.

“Small countries like Cyprus or those at the EU borders neighbouring difficult areas such as the Middle East, cannot carry all the weight of the refugee issue, even of beneficiaries,” Petrides said.

He said Cyprus’ systems were not ready to handle such numbers and admitted that the procedures followed by his ministry needed to be improved. A number of measures have been taken at national level and in cooperation with the Common European Asylum System to speed up asylum procedures and improve conditions at the reception areas, he said.

He also said that the Special Court for International Protection had already launched operations so that clearly abusive applications could be tried to enable effective returns of non-beneficiaries who are particularly burdening the system.

The minister said that more active involvement by the EU was necessary to ensure conditions of security and welfare in countries like Syria while arguing that the Dublin regulation needs to be amended since at the moment it is dumping responsibilities only on first-line countries.

Petrides also said a mechanism was necessary for an automatic distribution of beneficiaries of subsidiary protection across all EU countries while the EU ought to sign more readmission agreements with third countries that refuse to take in their own nationals.


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