Almost two thousand migrants arrived in Republic of Cyprus controlled areas this month, with the overwhelming majority illegally crossing from the occupied territories.
Minister of the Interior Nikos Nouris said that Turkey was deliberately sending the migrants over and further expressed concern about the fact that the nature of migration flows has changed, as more and more people are arriving from sub-Saharan Africa (as opposed to Middle East war zones), with this demographic change creating additional practical issues.
Nouris said Cyprus would continue to demand EU bilateral agreements with third countries, while also requesting a speeding up of the repatriation process.
He also noted that Cyprus had rejected 8.500 asylum applications this year, but was only repatriated 1,100, with no appropriate mechanisms in place.
‘There is also an issue in the Central Prisons, with a great number of Congo citizens being convicted by district courts for various crimes, further exasperating the overcrowding issue’.
The migrant flow is worsening, the minister of the interior stressed, despite additional government measures.
‘We’re now playing the cat and mouse game’, he added.
The Green Line is long, Nouris said, 184 kilometers long and its therefore not easy to monitor the situation, including the fact that the dividing line is not the country’s natural border.
‘The green line is our Achilles heel, with flows being reduced significantly from white weddings, foreign ‘students’ and even sea arrivals’.
The government, he added, has no other option but to strengthen controls across the Green Line.
Despite these issues, ‘we are always respectful to people; we’re a country with 200 thousand refugees, so we now what being a refugee means’ and have the good will and intention to welcome, provide care and host all those in real need.
Nevertheless, he pointed out, Cyprus can no longer take in such migrant numbers.