Disy leader and presidential candidate Averof Neophytou is due to hold talks with government representatives from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) about migration flows to Cyprus after he travelled there on Sunday.
A statement released by Disy said Neophytou will utilise his international connections in the DRC and, in consultation with Interior Minister Nicos Nouris, will have discussions with state officials before returning to Cyprus on Wednesday.
Disy’s announcement was followed by opposition party Akel’s response, which said that migration flows to Cyprus constitute a complex, multidimensional and difficult issue, “the management of which requires a coherent policy that takes into account both the capabilities and obligations of the Republic of Cyprus under international laws and relevant conventions.
“[President Nicos] Anastasiades’ and Disy’s failure to properly manage migratory flows cannot be remedied with half-measures or by means of dubious legitimacy. For such is the initiative undertaken by Averof Neophytou to travel to the DRC. We are wondering whether he will convince the traffickers to leave Cyprus out of their plans,” Akel said.
For its part, Disy later in the day said that Akel’s stance was typical as it always seeks to undermine initiatives and at the same time has no policy on the migration issue.
Disy acknowledged that the overall migration issue will not be solved by the one trip but that it marks an important step towards getting a handle on the situation and being prepared in the future.
But more criticism for the Disy leader came from the former rector of the University of Cyprus and fellow presidential candidate Constantinos Christofides, who also released a statement on Monday “wondering in what capacity is Neophytou visiting the DRC to discuss migration issues and repatriation agreements.
“Neophytou’s involvement is aimed at political gains and it is both unconstitutional and reckless,” Christofides said.
“As of today, we still have thousands of pending applications for asylum, as well as further thousands of rejected applications filed by people who are staying in Cyprus illegally.
“Has Neophytou replaced Interior Minister Nicos Nouris? After nine years of Disy government, what has been done regarding the issue?”
According to a report filed by the European Union agency for asylum (EUAA) last month, nationals of the DRC were the largest groups to apply for asylum in Cyprus in 2021, along with Syrians and Nigerians.
Moreover, the Republic received by far the highest proportion of EU applications relative to population size in 2021, with more than 1,500 per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Austria’s 432 and Malta’s 294.