The House interior committee on Thursday called on the government to “urgently effectively manage the migration issue.”

Upon the publication of a report into the matter, the committee added that the government must deal with increased migration flows through “integrated planning and structured political management.”

The report’s conclusions were read to the committee by its chairman, Akel MP Aristos Damianou.

He said the government’s first port of call in upgrading its infrastructure to deal with migration should concern reception centres and accommodation for asylum seekers, and the “rapid, legal, and efficient examination of applications”.

On the matter of asylum applications, he said that while the government has made efforts to speed up their processing, “weaknesses are being observed within their specified timescales”.

Therefore, he said, the government must provide “substantial improvement” of both the process itself and appeals and follow-ups.

To this end, he said, the government must “clarify the responsibilities of the competent services for immigration matters” while also achieving better communication between them.

He said that these changes would “improve the procedures for examining asylum applications and managing asylum seekers’ living conditions.”

Additionally, he said the government should “adopt procedures which will ensure access to appropriate legal representation for unaccompanied minors” and other asylum seekers, as well as more effective protection of applicants from exploitation while their claims are being processed.

Regarding failed applicants, the government should focus on creating a “structured and efficient returns process” and “integrated inclusion policies” for those granted asylum and allowed to remain in Cyprus.

He also touched on the matter of migrants arriving in Cyprus via the north, and said it is “imperative” that the government “takes measures to effectively deal with this phenomenon” and avoids “piecemeal” actions to this end.

He acknowledged the government’s intention to implement measures to deal with the flow of migrants across the Green Line but expressed reservations regarding their effectiveness and problems created for residents of areas near the Green Line.

In particular, he pointed out that the installation of barbed wire in 2021 negatively impacted residents’ quality of life, potentially infringing on their rights to freedom of movement and the use of their property.

He added that the government should provide “continuous and comprehensive information to the European Union” regarding migration flows, suggested measures to deal with the matter, and other related issues.

Overall, therefore, he said “it is necessary to adopt and implement effective measures to limit migration flows, which must in any case be carried out under the condition of Cyprus’ compliance with its European and international obligations and the safeguarding of both citizens’ and migrants’ rights.”

Additionally, he made reference to the phenomenon of people engaging in sham marriages to gain the right to live in Cyprus and said that while “improvements and corrective measures” have been made by the government in this area, “there is room for improvement”.

Improvement, he said, will come in the form of “strict application of existing legislation”.

He also spoke about conditions in reception centres, saying his committee “supports the need to ensure humane and dignified living conditions” for people being housed in them.

To this end, he said the government must make efforts to upgrade and improve them, as well as offering healthcare professionals “unhindered access” to them.

He added that the government needs to draw up an action plan “to effectively deal with and suppress incidences of crime recorded in and around reception centres”.

In addition, he called on the government to “intensify the police’s efforts” to identify and prosecute migrant traffickers, as well as their associates who operate in Cyprus.