By Jonathan Shkurko and Tom Cleaver

A total of 137 irregular migrants arrived in Cyprus by sea on Monday, bringing the number of arrivals up to 408 in the space of 24 hours.

The latest arrivals travelled in three boats and were transferred to the Pournara reception centre after having been brought ashore at the Ayia Napa marina.

The migrants arrived on three separate boats, with the three people who were driving the boats all arrested.

One of the three is just 17 years old, while the others are aged 22 and 36 years old.

As a result of the heightened number of arrivals in recent days, the authorities have raised their alert level, with more people expected to arrive in the coming days.

Meanwhile President Nikos Christodoulides will convene an emergency meeting of the National security council on Tuesday.

The meeting will be attended by Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou, Justice Minister Marios Hartsiotis, Defence Minister Vassilis Palmas, and a raft of other government, military and police figures.

Earlier, the Famagusta district court issued an eight-day remand against four people aged 43, 18, 23, and 26, suspected to be behind the arrival of five boats carrying a total of 271 irregular migrants in Cyprus on Sunday from Lebanon.

The first boat on Sunday carried 21 people, of which 19 were men and two were women, the second 179 (109 men, 17 women and 53 children of which 17 were unaccompanied), the third 27 (19 men, two women and six children), the fourth 24 (12 men, two women and six children) and the fifth 20 (11 men, nine women and five children), the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) said.

The migrants disembarked at Cape Greco in the Famagusta district, where all relevant protocols were activated.

Most of them are reported to be Syrian nationals. Their journey from Lebanon began after weather conditions improved in the past days.

Upon completion of their registration process, they were transferred to the Pournara reception centre in Kokkinotrimithia.

The arrival of large number of Syrian nationals on the island comes as Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou continues his work to attempt to persuade his European Union counterparts to consider parts of the war-torn country as “safe.

His claim is based on indications made regarding the capital city Damascus and the Mediterranean port city of Tartus, which lies around 160 kilometres east of Cape Greco, by the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA).

However, while Tartus as a port city is accessible by sea, Damascus is landlocked and surrounded by places which are decidedly unsafe.

Land routes between the port of Tartus and Damascus all pass through Homs, where, according to the EUAA, “indiscriminate violence is taking place.” Routes into Damascus from Jordan in the south all pass through the Dar’a governorate, where, the EUAA says, individuals would “solely on account of their presence on its territory face a real risk” of violence.

In addition, Damacus airport is located outside Damascus in the Rif Dimashq governorate outside Damascus, which the EUAA says is the scene of “indiscriminate violence”.

At the same time, Damascus has been the subject of intensified Israeli bombing in recent days, with a building close to the Iranian embassy reportedly hit by an airstrike on Monday.

The Syrian government also said on Sunday that two civilians had been injured during Israeli strikes on the outskirts of Damascus.

Despite the recent violence, Ioannou’s assertion has won support on the continent, with the Austrian interior ministry telling the Cyprus Mail in March that minister Gerhard Karner was of the opinion that “deportations to safe areas in Syria should be possible again in the medium term.”

The Cypriot interior ministry had also claimed it had won the agreement of the Swedish government on the matter, but a spokesperson for Sweden’s EU affairs minister denied the claim to the Cyprus Mail, describing it as a “misunderstanding”.