There have been no new migrant arrivals in Cyprus since the joint visit by President Nikos Christodoulides and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to Lebanon at the beginning of May, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Monday.

Speaking on CyBC radio, Ioannou said he is satisfied with the reduction in the number of arrivals but warned that complacency could see the problem arising again.

“The numbers are satisfactory, which means the talks held [by Christodoulides] with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati were productive,” he said.

The EU has offered Lebanon a financial package of €1 billion, which includes efforts to tackle border control and smuggling.

The funds would be available from this year until 2027, according to von der Leyen, who also said the EU would support Lebanon’s armed forces with equipment and training for border management.

“We still need to remain vigilant,” Ioannou said, adding that smugglers are known to find ways around coast guard patrols, in Cyprus as well as in the rest of the Eastern Mediterranean.

The minister also denied being in contact with Syrian authorities after the government announced last month that it would be putting all asylum applications from Syrian migrants on ice.

“I have not been in touch with Syrian officials,” Ioannou confirmed. “At the moment our attention is set on Lebanon, since most of the smugglers’ boats heading to Cyprus leave from their shores.”

Referring to last Friday’s meeting of eight EU member states on migration, Ioannou highlighted the importance of providing technological and economic support to Lebanon.

Meanwhile, Lebanese television channel LBCI reported on Sunday that irregular migration to Cyprus has decreased in recent weeks, attributing the reduction to the stricter measures adopted by the Republic.

According to the report, in the past week Lebanese intelligence intercepted a boat that was set to pick up Syrian refugees from the country’s coast, with the Lebanese navy stopping another one already at large and likely heading to Cyprus the following day.

LBCI said that the increased measures have led to the failure of traffickers’ attempts to smuggle people illegally, causing potential migrants to reconsider paying them exorbitant fees asked for the dangerous trips.

Recently, five migrant boats attempting to reach Cyprus from Lebanon were pushed back to unknown destinations.

The pushbacks drew controversy, as the treatment of the migrants on board by authorities was questioned by international NGO Amnesty and helpline Alarm Phone.

However, a different picture was painted in the media reports, which said the migrants were also given food and blankets for their journey to unknown destinations.

Reports said that the Cypriot port police had given food and blankets to the migrants before they left.