Interior Minister Nicos Nouris on Tuesday called on the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) to start monitoring flights and ferries arriving in the north to stop the irregular flow of migrants who eventually cross into the Republic.
Speaking after a meeting with the Green Party, Nouris said that in the first quarter of 2022 almost 5,000 new arrivals to the island applied for asylum.
“We are urging Frontex to carefully monitor the Turkish ports of Mersin and Antalya, from where most of the migrants arrive in the north, as well also the airport in Istanbul,” Nouris said.
He repeated it has been amply proven that the vast majority of migrants from Africa make their way into Cyprus via the Tympou airport in the north, adding that the interior ministry sent evidence of the claims to the European Commission last week.
Nouris’ meeting with the Greens mainly focused on the shifting demographic landscape on the island and the systematic illegal crossing of migrants into the Republic through the Green Line.
The minister said he held talks with EU representatives to accelerate the procedures to send back migrants who come from countries deemed safe and to increase surveillance along the Green Line.
“The second point is especially crucial if we want to effectively stop the flow of migrants crossing illegally into Cyprus,” he said.
“For the fifth consecutive year, our country has the largest number of migrants in proportion to the population. We need to find a way to stop the flow, just like Greece did within a year.”
Last month, Nouris said that Greece lowered then number of migrants making their way into the country from 78,000 in 2020 to 4,800 the following through targeted actions and practices.
“We would like to see something similar happen in our country so that we can provide better help to people actually in need, like the refugees arriving from Ukraine who are fleeing a war.
“Cyprus is known for its hospitality and people in need will always be welcome. Unfortunately, we are also a small island and we cannot accommodate everyone, especially those who are not in urgent need of help,” Nouris concluded.
Green party chief Charalambos Theopemptou also insisted that the EU should do more to control the flow of migrants to Cyprus.
“There are many problems faced by our country that we cannot solve on our own,” he said adding, however, that we have a moral obligation to treat migrants properly.
“Regardless of all the issues, we still have to show our sensitivity at all times,” Theopemptou said.