Cyprus Mail

Cyprus ships patrolling off Lebanon to deter migrants

The Alasai boat, which has been patrolling off the Lebanese coast

Two port police boats have been sent from Cyprus to patrol off the coast of Lebanon for migrant boats after the arrival of two boats a day ago.

The two boats on Monday follow a week of consistent vessel arrivals.

The news was confirmed by police spokesman Christos Andreou but he refrained from discussing more details about the mission.

This is the first mission of Cypriot ships to international waters following a mutual understanding reached with Lebanon last week.

Meanwhile, the interior ministry said all actions are being taken to address the acute problem of migrant flows from Lebanon in consultation with the authorities of the neighbouring country.

The two vessels, Alasia and Theseus are patrolling about 30 nautical miles from the Lebanese coast and have already spotted the first boats which they have sent back to Lebanon while informing the authorities of the country.

Over the weekend Cyprus announced that it would also be putting all asylum applications from Syrian migrants on ice.

On Monday, the government clarified the measures saying that Syrians would still be able to make applications for asylum but they would not be processed for 21 months.

These measures, according to officials, were enacted to make Cyprus a less attractive destination for migrants in the light of consistent flows.

Data from Frontex, the European border force, showed arrivals along the Eastern Mediterranean route, which directly affects Cyprus, have risen by 109 per cent.

Frontex said: “The Eastern Mediterranean edged out the Western African route as the most active path into the EU for irregular migrants in the first quarter, with the number of detections more than doubling to just above 13,700.”

Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou disclosed the statistics in a post on X, revealing that Cyprus has completed 3,337 migrant returns so far in 2024, compared to 2,348 returns in the entirety of 2023.

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