News Local Petrides: 130% increase in asylum applications

Petrides: 130% increase in asylum applications

There has been unprecedented increase of over 130% in new asylum applications in Cyprus compared to the already high number recorded in 2018, Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides has said, describing the situation as “extremely challenging”.

Addressing the 5th Conference of the Red Cross Small European National Societies, Petrides said that according to Eurostat and EASO, for the third year in a row, Cyprus remains the top receiving Member State per capita.

In his speech, Petrides referred to Cyprus’ traditionally strong ties with the Cyprus Red Cross Society, that go back to the events of the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the consequent division of the island.

These ties have developed through the years, he said, into a strong partnership in many areas, such as the management of the refugee crisis affecting Cyprus in the recent years.

Cyprus, a small country at the European border of a region beset by political instability and conflicts, Petrides said, has been at the frontline of massive migration flows.

Noting that being a divided country with more than a third of its population internally and violently displaced due to the Turkish invasion, “we consider the adequate reception and hosting of refugees and migrants arriving in Cyprus, as our obligation and moral duty towards every affected fellow human being”.

However, Petrides said that only in 2017 the increase in asylum applications, in comparison to 2016, was over 50%. Moreover, 2018 demonstrated a further sharp increase in migratory flows of 69%.

“The alarming trend continues in 2019, where until July, a total of 7812 new applicants were registered in Cyprus, demonstrating an unprecedented increase of over 130% in comparison to the already high influx of 2018. According to the available data of Eurostat and EASO, for the third year in a row, Cyprus remains the top receiving Member State per capita.”

He added that the “geographical proximity to a number of politically and socially unstable countries, the inability to effectively control the occupied areas of the island due to the illegal occupation, the lack of cooperation on behalf of Turkey, as well as the failure of the EU to manage effectively and holistically the migration issue, are among the main reasons that have led to this extremely challenging situation”.

Citizens of Syria remain the top nationality in asylum applications in 2019. Nevertheless, new alarming trends are emerging, such as the significant influx of citizens of Georgia, as well as of India, Cameroon, Nigeria and Bangladesh.

The minister noted that despite the ongoing efforts put forward by the Republic of Cyprus, “the situation continues to deteriorate, leading to a complete overload of the social and economic structures of the island”.

He explained that the asylum procedures in Cyprus are in alignment with the EU acquis and in conformity with the country’s international obligation, in order to provide protection to those who have genuine fear of persecution in their countries of origin.

The measures taken towards the adoption of a fair and effective asylum procedure, said Petrides, aim to ensure that all asylum applications are processed within a short period of time and treated in a fair way, safeguarding the principle of “non-refoulement”, and that no person will return to a country where he/she has a valid fear of persecution.

The goal, he added, is to continuously improve procedures, acknowledging however that despite the government’s continuous efforts, “we still have a lot of work to do in improving the asylum system in order to be more effective in granting protection fast to those who really need it, while at the same time, in preventing the increasing abuse of the asylum system from economic migrants, which is a factor that makes the system less efficient for those who are in real need of protection”.

He welcomed the placing of an EU expert as of this month on the island, according to the agreed action plan with the European Commission and EASO.

The Interior Minister said he aspires “that the new European Commission will present approaches that would achieve the necessary consensus at EU level in order to have a truly European policy and fair burden sharing amongst EU member states”.

Minister Petrides said facing the enormous challenges of irregular migration, the role of the Red Cross has extremely important, as well as that of a number of non-governmental organisations, adding the Government and Red Cross Cyprus are cooperating in projects co-funded by the EU and the Republic of Cyprus.

He cited the example of the Reception and Accommodation Centre for Applicants of International Protection in Kofinou, the implementation soon with the Red Cross as Final Beneficiary, of the creation, operation and management of an Open Reception Centre for Vulnerable Applicants of International Protection.

Furthermore, the role of the Cyprus Red Cross Society has been vital in the efficient operation of the First Reception Centre in Kokkinotrimithia, where the Cyprus Red Cross has a permanent presence and specifically in creating such conditions in this type of reception centre, which first and foremost respect the human dignity and secondly create an environment of efficient cooperation between governmental and non-governmental authorities.

The Cyprus Red Cross Society has also been a valuable partner in providing humanitarian support to migrants arriving by sea, with the distribution of food and clothes.

The role of the Cyprus Red Cross is clearly defined in the ‘Nafkratis’ Contingency Plan, drafted for the management of mass arrivals of persons to Cyprus, who, upon stating their intention to apply for asylum, are transferred to the First Reception Centre, which also operates as an Emergency Centre for this category of arrivals.

(Cyprus News Agency)

Top Stories

One covid case today, an immigrant that was to be hosted in care centre-1003 in total

  One new case of Covid-19 was reported in Cyprus today out of 1445 tests. It's an immigrant that was to be hosted in a care...

Major traffic congestion on Famagusta-Larnaca highway, as thousands return

  Police has advised caution and patience to drivers as thousands return to the capital from coastal resorts. There is increased traffic on the Famagusta-Larnaca highway,...

Health ministry issues heat protection advice as high temperatures continue

  The health ministry issued basic heat protection advice this afternoon, following several Met Office warnings of high temperatures both today and over the next...

Yellow heat warning tomorrow-41 degrees

  The Met Office has issued a yellow heat warning as hot and dry conditions will persist tomorrow, though slightly downgraded in comparison with a...

Ireland delays easing of travel restrictions until July 20, has lowest infection rate in EU

  Ireland will ease quarantine restrictions on people travelling from abroad on July 20, with people arriving from a “green list” of countries with low...

Taste

Cyprus sprouts with cream and prosciutto

In a big, deep frying pan, fry the prosciutto in the olive oil, on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the onion and garlic...

Pork burger with sundried tomatoes, mozzarella and anchovies

Mix all the ingredients together with the mince in a bowl, and combine well. Divide into 4 balls and form the burgers. Warm a griddle/pan...

Sheftalies

Wash the lamb cauls with plenty of cold water and let them settle in water and vinegar for a little while. Soak the bread crumbs...

Loukaniko Pitsilias – Pitsilia Sausage

Pitsilia sausage is produced in the Pitsilia region from pork minced meat that is “cooked” ( matured) in the dry red wine of the...