The ambassadors of France, Germany and the Netherlands visited Pournara reception center on Monday in what was seen as acknowledgement of the problem facing Cyprus and of the need for migration flows to be shared by all EU member states.
According to an announcement by the German embassy, the ambassadors were received by ministry of interior and labor officials who briefed them about the situation and specifically about the issues of unaccompanied minors and of special safe zones for trafficked women and other vulnerable persons.
The ambassadors were given a tour inside a new special safe zone that will soon be operational. All three highlighted the significance of providing decent living conditions and appropriate social care to migrants.
“We are aware of the difficult situation Cyprus is currently facing regarding the management of irregular migrant flows vis a vis the country’s size and population. Germany actively supports Cyprus in its efforts to return those migrants whose asylum applications have been rejected,” said Germany’s ambassador, Anke Schlimm.
The ambassador further stressed that Germany wants to offer support to those migrants who are more vulnerable, especially unaccompanied minors and women victims of trafficking.
“Our visit here helps us understand and identify the needs of those in need of humanitarian assistance,” Schlimm added.
Ambassador of the Netherlands, Elke Merks-Schaapveld, recognized the work carried out during the reception procedures, pointing out the many challenges and highlighted Netherland’s support to Cyprus via the deployment of return advisors to Frontex.
France’s ambassador, Salina Grenet-Catalano, said that the need for solidarity from other EU member states was evident, adding that there was an EU Council agreement, adopted under the French presidency, that could make this solidarity a reality. Cyprus should be one of the first countries to benefit from this mechanism that enables relocations, assistance for returns and also improves the living conditions of migrants in facilities such as Pournara.
All three ambassadors highlighted Cyprus’ difficult position and recognized the disproportionate pressures on the country’s abilities to cope, agreeing that the responsibility of these migration flows should be shared among the EU member states. The prospect for further support will also be examined through their respective foreign ministries, the announcement concluded.