Cyprus Mail

National security council in session as more migrant vessels sighted

migrant boat
File photo: a boat with migrants

The National Security Council convened as two more migrant vessels were sighted on Tuesday morning.

The session, which was called by President Nikos Christodoulides in response to the recent upsurge in arrivals of irregular migrants by sea, will be attended the ministers of foreign affairs, interior, justice and defense, the attorney general and the chief of police.

The goals is to assess the situation and consider additional measures to stem migration flows, government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said.

Among other measures, a re-evaluation to designate parts of Syria as safe will be urgently requested by the Republic,  Letymbiotis told state broadcaster CyBC. The move is expected to aid in stemming the upsurge in irregular migration flows since most immigrants who come to Cyprus are Syrian nationals, the spokesman said.

In the early hours on Tuesday two boats were intercepted off Cape Greco bearing 68 migrants, of whom 67 were nationals of Syria, and one of Bangladesh.

The first vessel, carrying 43 people; 25 men, five women, seven unaccompanied minors and six children, was intercepted around 1am. The passengers were taken to the safety of Ayia Napa marina and registered by 4am.

The second boat, intercepted at 2.30am, had on board 25 people, of whom 16 men, one woman, six unaccompanied minors, and two children.

Police proceeded to arrest the boats’ operators, aged 26 and 52, and they will appear before the Famagusta District Court on Tuesday.

Earlier on Monday three boats, bearing a total of 137 people had been escorted by port police to the Ayia Napa marina, and their passengers registered, prior to their transfer to the Pournara Reception Centre.

Police arrested three men, aged 17, 22 and 36, allegedly the boat operators, and they are to appear before the Famagusta court for the issuance of arrest warrants.

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