Cyprus received on Monday 10 million Swiss francs (10.092m euros) as a donation to deal with the migration crisis at a ceremony in Bern, Switzerland attended by Interior Minister Nicos Nouris.
Speaking at the ceremony at the federal department of justice and police, Nouris thanked the Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter.
He said that this economic support comes at a time when the total percentage of asylum seekers has reached six per cent of the total population.
Nouris said the agreement is the second Swiss contribution between both governments, which includes significant financial support in various areas such as migration and social cohesion, with particular reference to health programmes for people with rare genetic disorders, programmes to combat family violence and investigating the fate of the missing person as a result of the Turkish invasion of 1974.
But he made a special point of funds for migration just as the number of asylum seekers in Cyprus has exceeded 16,500 for 2022 and the total percentage of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection has reached six per cent of the total population.
“Disproportionate migration flows have led to a situation of force majeure, pushing national asylum and reception systems to their limits,” he said.
The minister said that the gesture of the Swiss government and the practical financial support to the Republic of Cyprus show the solidarity that is gradually being established in Europe for the management of the migration issue and especially towards the frontline member states that bear the greatest burden of the problem.
He said that the Swiss contribution will be used in two important pillars that the government has prioritised.
The first pillar, he said, is the implementation of efficient and quality asylum procedures, under which new infrastructures for asylum and immigration services will be created to improve existing facilities and therefore have greater capabilities in terms of case management asylum. The new infrastructure, he added, will allow the additional staff to be recruited by the agency.
Nouris said that the second pillar is the greater, decisive reinforcement of the returns of migrants whose asylum applications have been rejected, respecting the principle of voluntary, dignified and safe return of third-country nationals to their country of origin.
He added Cyprus has succeeded in increasing returns in recent years, while in 2022 the government has succeeded in multiplying the number, surpassing 6,000 returns so far. A figure that places Cyprus, per capita, in first place among EU member states in terms of returns.
“I am convinced that with this support we will achieve even more in this area,” he said.