Pournara migrant reception centre is set to receive upgrades with funds of €25 million being approved by the cabinet on Wednesday, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said.

On Thursday, the minister said that while he is Brussels, he will sign an agreement with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for a first batch of funding of €13 million to be given for these projects.

Nouris said that a few months ago, the European Commission approved, after many efforts by his ministry, a very large expenditure of €68 million for the construction of the pre-departure centre in Menoyia.

Following the Menoyia funding, the minister said that the EU told them it would be difficult to allocate anymore due to the Ukraine crisis.

However, Nouris said that by explaining to them in detail the need for the upgrades to Pournara and with some “pressure” they were able to receive the additional €25 million.

He added: “We presented a plan which cost around €25 million for the upgrade of the Pournara centre which essentially consists of replacing all the tents with residential units.”

He also said that fencing has already begun with funding from the Cypriot government and there will be an upgrade of the remaining areas.

Nouris said that a mechanism has been found to provide a first financing of €13 million. This money will be allocated to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) with which the interior ministry will sign a relevant agreement.

This first fund of €13 million will be allocated starting next month, with the works set to be completed in October 2023.

Nouris clarified that the centre will not be expanded, but instead revamped.

Commenting on the Ukrainian refugees that have arrived in Cyprus since the Russian invasion, Nouris said that they number today around 16,000.

He added that the EU had budgeted around €6 million for Cyprus, but that ministry deemed the funds too low to meet the needs of the refugees.

During his visit to Brussels, he is expected to discuss this matter with the EU officials.