Changes for international protection applicants in Cyprus
Cyprus’ Interior Ministry announced on Wednesday that international protection applicants who have arrived in the Republic of Cyprus from 1/01/2023 onwards, will not be eligible candidates for the voluntary relocation programme, as well as the possibility of revising the policy regarding Syrian nationals to prevent further flows from Syria.
Recently, the Ministry states in a press release, changes have been observed in the way people smugglers operate, shifting the balance to migrant arrivals through the sea route, while it appears that there is an increasing trend in arrivals of Syrian nationals.
The Ministry also notes that, despite an increase in sea arrivals, asylum applications “remain significantly lower than last year, as a result of coordinated actions and measures taken recently.” The measures “have clearly” helped reduce asylum applications from migrants from sub-Saharan African countries, with people smuggling rings currently shifting to other nationalities such as Syrians, it added. For example, it states, there were 735 asylum applications in June 2023 compared to 2,401 the same month last year. Furthermore, 1,770 applications were submitted in July 2022 while until mid-July this year, asylum applications remained at lower levels, with around 550 applicants, it said.
The Ministry also said that the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus were making efforts, at the political and diplomatic, as well as at the technocratic and operational level, to manage the increasing trend of migrant arrivals, mainly from Syria, but also of the people smuggling rings that seem to be operating in the region.
Specifically, it is added, at a technocratic level, the matter is monitored by a working group, which has already been set up on the instructions of Interior Minister, Constantinos Ioannou, consisting of officials from the Asylum Service, the Civil Registry and Migration Department, the Immigration Office as well as the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance. “The group’s mandate is to examine the possibility of revising the policy regarding Syrian nationals, with the aim of properly managing those already in the Republic of Cyprus, as well as preventing further flows from Syria,” it says.
It is noted that at the operational level, measures are taken to identify the smugglers of these migrants while actions are being taken to exchange information between the competent European services and European organisations, such as EUROPOL.
It is further stated that international protection applicants who have arrived in the Republic of Cyprus from 1/01/2023 onwards, “will not be included in the lists of eligible candidates for the voluntary relocation programme”. The aim of this policy, it is added, is to avoid the possibility the relocation programme becoming an attractive factor for nationals of specific third countries, who, possibly “abusing” the programme, use Cyprus as a transit to other EU member states.
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY