Asylum applications have increased by 490 per cent since 2015, the Office of the Law Commissioner said on Tuesday, World Refugee Day.

The primary focus of the office in recent months has been the revision of the Refugee Law, which the office deemed “a highly serious and necessary task for Cyprus in order to improve and accelerate the procedures for better handling and management of asylum applications.”

The new legislation aims to adopt a clear legal framework that enhances administrative, judicial, and overall practical procedures concerning asylum seekers.

“Our guiding principle in this endeavour is the real safeguarding of the rights of asylum seekers,” the statement said.

The efforts are part of the broader framework of the government’s goal to better manage the migratory flow to the island.

The statement also underlined the importance of a clear strategy for migrants at sea, as it reminded of the fishing boat smuggling migrants that sank in international waters in the Ionian Sea off the coast of Pylos, where around 80 people lost their lives.

“In the wake of the unfathomable tragedy off the coast of Pylos, the message and values of World Refugee Day become even more significant, as the disaster captured the daily plight of thousands of fellow human beings who abandon their homes in search of safety,” it said.

The Committee of the Occupied Municipalities also released a statement on World Refugee Day in solidarity with displaced individuals worldwide, particularly those in Cyprus “who have been deprived of basic freedoms for almost half a century due to the Turkish invasion and occupation of their lands.

“The right for every person to live and enjoy their home and property in conditions of peace, security, and freedom is a fundamental human right safeguarded by numerous international conventions and decisions,” the statement said.