The interior ministry on Friday sought to demonstrate to EU partners how the UN buffer zone is the source of the problem where migration flows are concerned.

Permanent secretary of the ministry Loizos Michael gave members of the EU High Level Network for Returns a tour of the buffer zone, saying they were expected to convey their experiences to their respective member states.

“Colleagues from the 27 EU member states, from the High-Level Network for returns were given a tour to see the source of the migration problem in Cyprus, which is the Green Line, where we receive 95 per cent of illegal crossings every year,” he said.

He added that Cyprus was praised both by the European Commission and EU member states for the number of returns of immigrants.

Michael told attendees that 18,500 migrants cross from the north through the Green Line, straining Cyprus’ asylum system.

Earlier this week, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said Cyprus has repatriated close to 7,000 migrants during 2022 and is a model within the EU for such returns.

According to figures from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), 20,748 returns were registered across Europe in the first 11 months of the year, a 40 per cent increase on 2021.

As of the end of November, Frontex was deploying 2,300 personnel, over 60 vessels and more than 270 patrol cars at Europe’s external borders. In Cyprus there were 25 Frontex personnel deployed in Cyprus plus 15 Returns Officers.