News Local Spokesman: 100 people on Green Line asking for political asylum (Updated)

Spokesman: 100 people on Green Line asking for political asylum (Updated)

About 100 people have congregated on the Green Line and are asking for political asylum amid reports of more waves of refugees from Turkey, government spokesman Kyriakos Koushios said on Tuesday.

He said that the ministerial committee on migration is due to meet later today to discuss issues including the lack of appropriate infrastructure to host new arrivals.

In a call today between President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the former offered Cyprus’ assistance as part of FRONTEX or on a bilateral level to tackle challenges caused following the opening of the EU border to immigration by Turkey “to blackmail Europe”.

Mitsotakis is currently visiting Greece’s border with Turkey near the Evros river with the EU leadership where thousands of migrants have congregated after Turkey decided to stop enforcing a 2016 accord with the European Union whereby it stopped migrants entering the bloc in return for cash.

Koushos said that Cyprus is one of the countries targeted by Turkey with the opening of its borders with the EU to migrants last week, therefore large flows of refugees should be anticipated as their numbers reach 3.5% of the island’s population, a 320 % increase in the last two years.

More than 10,000 migrants, mostly from Syria, other Middle Eastern states and Afghanistan, have reached Turkey’s land borders with EU states Greece and Bulgaria since Ankara said last Thursday it would stop keeping them on its territory.

Koushos said Cyprus is already overwhelmed with asylum seekers and irregular migrants and said the EU needed to act.

He added that of the 100 people currently at the Green Line, many are economic migrants, not refugees fleeing war.

“We have reached out to the EU and FRONTEX has been mobilised with our contribution. We have already advised Greece that we will provide help to the maximum of our abilities, but the EU needs to devise a policy on economic migrants on a European level,” he said.

Asked whether the EU is positive on the increase of financing to countries at the forefront of migration flows, Koushos responded in the affirmative noting that Cyprus received assurances that funding will increase, but the exact figures are yet to be established.

The upcoming visit of the President of the European Council Charles Michel was also mentioned at the invitation of President Anastasiades on a date to be decided.

Meanwhile, President Anastasiades expressed his concern over the increase in migrant flows from Turkey accusing the latter of attempting to alter Cyprus’ demographic characteristics.

“Given everything we are witnessing at the Greek border and what we have faced to date with the inflow of migrants from Turkey, and being first in Europe in political asylum applications per number of inhabitants, yes, of course we are concerned.

“We will look into possible measures that can be taken, always in consideration of human suffering, in order to prevent attempts to alter the demographic character of the country,” the President said.

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