The government has plans to improve the infrastructure at Pournara migrant reception centre, where “excellent work” is being done, Deputy Immigration Minister Nicholas Ioannides said on Tuesday.

Speaking after his first visit to the centre, Ioannides said much had improved, assisted by the reduced influx of migrants, which allows the asylum service to be more effective.

There are currently 222 migrants – including nine children – at Pournara, a significantly lower number compared to previous years, which at one point had “reached 3,000 migrants”, he said.

“If we look at it progressively, there is an improvement, not only regarding numbers. It is also the living conditions of these people,” he added.

Ioannides was briefed on the project to upgrade the infrastructure of the centre, worth €27.5 million, which is funded by the European Commission and carried out by the International Organisation for Migration.

Some upgrading works are already being carried out with EU funding, he said and expressed hope that “over the next two years many of these works will have been completed in Pournara, Limnes and Menoyia, where we will be able to receive more people, with emphasis on the quality of living conditions.”

Immigration, he said, does not only concern Cyprus, but is an issue of “the broader region and the EU.

“We are not alone in this. We must address the issue in cooperation with our European partners and this is what we will do,” he said.