Twelve of the 50 asylum seekers that were chosen for relocation to the Vatican from Cyprus departed on Thursday, an Interior Ministry press release announced.
The asylum seekers were chosen ahead of Pope Francis visit to Cyprus earlier this month.
The Ministry of Interior said that the Pontiff’s “symbolic gesture constitutes a recognition of the difficulties that Cyprus is facing with the increasing flow of migrants who illegally cross from the Green Line into the government-controlled areas after arriving in the Turkish occupied areas from Turkey, which systematically instrumentalises the migrant issue vis-à-vis Cyprus”.
We want to warmly thank Pope Francis and the Holy See for their symbolic action and hope that it will be the start of substantial solidarity from other EU member states towards the Republic of Cyprus, the press release added.
The Vatican said the Rome-based Sant`Egidio Community, working with governments, had arranged to bring the asylum-seekers from Cyprus to Italy in the coming weeks. It said 12 people would be transferred initially.