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Cyprus minister pins blame for migration ’emergency’ on Turkey

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 The small Mediterranean island of Cyprus has a huge problem with irregular migration says the interior minister of the EU member state located closest to the Middle East For us this is a state of emergency Nicos Nouris told AFP adding that 4 6 percent of the country s population are now asylum seekers or beneficiaries of protection the highest proportion in the EU The Greek Cypriot minister accused Turkey whose troops have occupied the northern third of the island since 1974 of encouraging much of the influx of Syrian refugees and arrivals from sub Saharan Africa Human rights groups and observers have criticized Cyprus for dire conditions in its main overcrowded migrant camp which was rocked by clashes this month and for alleged brutal treatment of some of the new arrivals But Nouris responded that it s brutal what Turkey has been doing to us as new asylum claims multiplied to more than 13 000 last year in the country of 850 000 people The issue of migration in Cyprus is a big problem because it has been instrumentalized by Turkey accused the minister of the conservative Democratic Grouping party The Republic of Cyrus remains at odds with Turkey which under a deal with the EU hosts millions of Syrian refugees and which disputes potential offshore oil and gas reserves claimed by Cyprus Nouris denounced that every day between 60 and 80 irregular migrants guided by smugglers cross the 184 kilometre 114 mile Green Line patrolled by the UN that divides the island and 85 percent of asylum seekers last year They came this way Stranded on an island The main country of origin for pending asylum claims in 2021 remained Syria but Cameroon the Democratic Republic of the Congo Nigeria and Somalia followed according to the ministry Many of the new arrivals Nouris said fly via Istanbul to the small northern breakaway state recognized only by Ankara From there with the smugglers they find a way through the Green Line Only once they have crossed to the south many discover that they are not within the visa free Schengen area of the European Union They are stuck on the island Nouris said They cannot travel to Germany or France where they want to go because Cyprus is not a member of the Schengen zone Cyprus stresses that the Green Line is not a border but simply the ceasefire line beyond which are areas that are not under government control Nonetheless Nouris said his government which recently fortified a section of the line with barbed wire will soon build fences intensify patrols and starting in the summer install an Israeli made surveillance system The head of the EU border agency Frontex Fabrice Leggeri will visit Cyprus on Wednesday the minister said Nouris said that Cyprus would like Frontex to patrol the waters south of Turkey from where every night especially during the summer we had illegal departures of migrants but acknowledged that this would require Ankara s approval Violence in migrant camps Cyprus is also asking the EU to expand the list of so called safe countries of origin for migrants and to reach agreements to facilitate repatriations Nicosia recently sent more than 250 Vietnamese migrants on a special flight and cooperated with Belgium to repatriate 17 Congolese A joint flight with Germany is scheduled for March 8 to retrieve a group of Pakistanis Nouris said in what would be a forced return rather than a voluntary one Human Rights Watch and other groups have accused Cyprus of sometimes heavy handed methods against migrants including pushing back asylum seekers at sea Nouris insisted that Cyprus has never ever backed down but rather had exercised its right to intercept ships which were normally escorted to Lebanon A flashpoint of the Cyprus migration problem has been the Pournara reception center on the outskirts of Nicosia where tents and prefabricated structures initially set up for several hundred people now house some 2 500 Tensions erupted last week in violence involving Nigerian Congolese and Somali men leaving dozens injured Police were also looking for a 15 year old boy accused of stabbing a 17 year old The incident showed that Cyprus needs solidarity and assistance from the EU Nouris said In a place that is packed with so many people and especially so many nationalities it is something that was expected he said Source Credit TheGuardian
Cyprus minister pins blame for migration ’emergency’ on Turkey

Middle East

The small Mediterranean island of Cyprus has a huge problem with irregular migration, says the interior minister of the EU member state located closest to the Middle East.

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Nicos Nouris

“For us, this is a state of emergency,” Nicos Nouris told AFP, adding that 4.6 percent of the country’s population are now asylum seekers or beneficiaries of protection, the highest proportion in the EU. .

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Greek Cypriot

The Greek Cypriot minister accused Turkey, whose troops have occupied the northern third of the island since 1974, of encouraging much of the influx of Syrian refugees and arrivals from sub-Saharan Africa.

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Human rights groups and observers have criticized Cyprus for dire conditions in its main overcrowded migrant camp, which was rocked by clashes this month, and for alleged brutal treatment of some of the new arrivals.

But Nouris

But Nouris responded that “it’s brutal what Turkey has been doing to us,” as new asylum claims multiplied to more than 13,000 last year in the country of 850,000 people.

Democratic Grouping

“The issue of migration in Cyprus is a big problem because it has been instrumentalized by Turkey,” accused the minister of the conservative Democratic Grouping party.

Republic of Cyrus

The Republic of Cyrus remains at odds with Turkey, which under a deal with the EU hosts millions of Syrian refugees, and which disputes potential offshore oil and gas reserves claimed by Cyprus.

Green Line

Nouris denounced that every day between 60 and 80 irregular migrants, guided by smugglers, cross the 184-kilometre (114-mile) Green Line patrolled by the UN that divides the island, and 85 percent of asylum seekers last year They came this way. .

Democratic Republic

– ‘Stranded on an island’ – The main country of origin for pending asylum claims in 2021 remained Syria, but Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Somalia followed, according to the ministry.

Green Line

Many of the new arrivals, Nouris said, fly via Istanbul to the small northern breakaway state recognized only by Ankara. “From there, with the smugglers, they find a way through the Green Line.”

European Union

Only once they have crossed to the south, many discover that they are not within the visa-free Schengen area of ​​the European Union.

“They are stuck on the island,” Nouris said. “They cannot travel to Germany or France, where they want to go, because Cyprus is not a member of the Schengen zone.”

Green Line

Cyprus stresses that the Green Line is not a border, but simply the ceasefire line, beyond which are “areas that are not under government control”.

Nonetheless, Nouris said, his government, which recently fortified a section of the line with barbed wire, will soon build fences, intensify patrols and, starting in the summer, install an Israeli-made surveillance system.

Fabrice Leggeri

The head of the EU border agency Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, will visit Cyprus on Wednesday, the minister said.

Nouris said that Cyprus would like Frontex to patrol the waters south of Turkey, “from where every night, especially during the summer, we had illegal departures of migrants”, but acknowledged that this would require Ankara’s approval.

– Violence in migrant camps: Cyprus is also asking the EU to expand the list of so-called safe countries of origin for migrants and to reach agreements to facilitate repatriations.

Nicosia recently sent more than 250 Vietnamese migrants on a special flight and cooperated with Belgium to repatriate 17 Congolese.

A joint flight with Germany is scheduled for March 8 to retrieve a group of Pakistanis, Nouris said, in what would be a “forced” return rather than a voluntary one.

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch and other groups have accused Cyprus of sometimes heavy-handed methods against migrants, including pushing back asylum seekers at sea.

Nouris insisted that “Cyprus has never, ever backed down,” but rather had exercised its right to intercept ships, which were normally escorted to Lebanon.

A flashpoint of the Cyprus migration problem has been the Pournara reception center on the outskirts of Nicosia, where tents and prefabricated structures initially set up for several hundred people now house some 2,500.

Congolese and Somali

Tensions erupted last week in violence involving Nigerian, Congolese and Somali men, leaving dozens injured. Police were also looking for a 15-year-old boy accused of stabbing a 17-year-old.

The incident showed that Cyprus needs “solidarity” and assistance from the EU, Nouris said.

“In a place that is packed with so many people, and especially so many nationalities, it is something that was expected,” he said.

Source Credit: TheGuardian

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