A new reception centre for migrants in Limnes is a milestone in strengthening Cyprus’ capacity to manage migration pressures more effectively, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Tuesday.
He was speaking at the signing of a contract between the transport ministry and Cyfield-Iacovou (MN) Joint Venture to start the construction of the facility that will act as a reception centre for migrants and a predeparture centre for voluntary returns.
“Strengthening the structures is an important part of the government’s migration policy,” Ioannou said.
“The lack of infrastructure and places for holding migrants have been the brake on important procedures in the sector, such as the faster processing of asylum applications, but also the acceleration of the repatriation procedures,” he added.
The Limnes Reception Centre, with a capacity for 1,000 people, will host those whose application has been rejected in the first instance.
“They will receive accommodation [at the centre], along with applicants who came from safe countries of origin and whose asylum request is examined in a fast-paced procedure, based on the Refugee Law,” he said.
Commenting on the functioning of the centre, he added that the goal is to be able to locate migrants that have had their applications rejected easier and to repatriate them.
In conjunction with the second centre, the Pre-Departure Centre, which is located near the Hospitality Centre, according to the minister “the most efficient management and facilitation for the systematic return of applicants for international protection, whose request has been definitively rejected and reside illegally in Cyprus will be achieved”.
He added that the existing facility for illegal migrants in Menoyia was deemed insufficient, as it can only house 126 individuals and could not deal with the influx of migrants in recent years.
“Today, the new Pre-Departure Centre, with a capacity of 800 people illegally residing in the Republic, begins to be implemented, allowing us to respond more effectively to the increased needs for the return of migrants,” the minister said.
He stated that the two centres will be completed within 24 months and will be co-financed by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the EU and the Republic of Cyprus.
The architectural plans of the centre meet all the specifications required by the European Union and were drawn up by the Department of Urban Planning and Housing.
Permanent Secretary of the Transport Ministry Antonis Koutsoullis said the cost of the project is estimated at €84,888,000 + VAT.
He added that it includes construction of facilities with a total area of 27,000 square metres, and conversions to existing building facilities with a total area of approximately 1,400 square metres.
In addition to the basic infrastructure in each centre, he added, areas for shared activities, services, sports facilities, entertainment areas/playgrounds, shared gardens and outdoor parking areas will also be included.