Four people suspected of transporting 114 irregular migrants from Syria to the Republic have been arrested, police said on Wednesday as officials seek measures to curb arrivals from the West-Asian country.
The first wooden boat was spotted at around 7pm on Tuesday 23 nautical miles southeast of Cape Greco. It was carrying 95 people, Famagusta police spokesman Steve Theodoulou told CNA.
About 30 minutes later, a second smaller vessel was detected 16 nautical miles of the coast, carrying a smaller group of about migrants. In total, there were some 15 children and 11 unaccompanied minors on both boats, the officer said.
The boats were taken to the Larnaca port and were guarded by the police.
During questioning, testimony emerged that the vessels started on Monday from Tartus, Syria, while passengers paid €2,500 to €3,500 each to be on board. Following information that four specific people were navigating the boat, those were arrested.
The rest of the migrants were transferred to the Pournara asylum seekers’ reception centre.
Earlier on Wednesday, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said measures are being taken to detect the people smugglers enabling the Syrian route while a group of competent officials has been set up to examine the possibility of revising the policy concerning Syrian nationals. The revisions will aim to effectively managing those already in Cyprus and preventing further flows from the neighbouring country.