Cyprus is ready to take in refugees from the Middle East due to the crisis in Israel and Gaza, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Wednesday, while adding that in the EU, Cyprus ranks number one in the number of returns and deportations of failed asylum seekers.
“State services are ready to deal with refugee arrivals in the same way and speed as they did in the case of Ukraine, with absolute respect for human rights,” he said, speaking after the cabinet session.
Meanwhile, in the same statements, Ioannou said that Cyprus ranks first among EU countries regarding returns and deportations of migrants.
He added that for September, the equation of arrivals versus returns was positive.
In relation to his recent participation in the MED5 Summit in Thessaloniki, Greece, where the migration issue was discussed among the European member states of the front line, Ioannou said that the meeting with his counterparts from Greece, Spain, Malta and Italy reaffirmed the common understanding on how to deal with migration flows.
“The ideal scenario for all five countries would be mandatory relocations, which is currently unfeasible.”
The minister also welcomed the new crisis management regulation and the fact that instrumentalisation is now recognised.
“This is important for us, because we know the instrumentalisation the migration issue receives from Turkey with regard to Cyprus,” he added.
Also, Ioannou said that during the summit Cyprus was recorded as the country with the most successful returns programme.
He said that in September “we had about 750 arrivals compared to more than about 850 returns of irregular migrants”.
“Cyprus in absolute numbers is one of the first EU countries and we have also received congratulations from Mr [vice-president of the European Commission Margaritis] Schoinas and the other ministers of the summit for the very successful programme that existed and which we have strengthened in recent months,” Ioannou said.
He said that 7,500 irregular migrants have left Cyprus to date, while less than 7,500 have left Italy, which has received 120,000 migrants.