CNA News

Number of asylum applications examiners more than doubled, Ioannou says

With the recruitment of 25 additional members by the Asylum Service, the number of examiners of asylum applications has more than doubled, Cyprus’ Interior Minister, Constantinos Ioannou said on Monday, noting that and they estimate that authorities will now be in a position to process 2,300 applications per month, and start working on 30,000 pending applications.

In his statements after attending a briefing for the 25 new members of the Asylum Service, Ioannou expressed his conviction that the new staff would help strengthen the Service. The new examiners are set to take up duties from the beginning of November.

Regarding information last week about the arrival of a large number of Syrians from Lebanon, the Minister said, that there have been no arrivals so far, while he was waiting for Lebanon’s response to a letter he had sent for cooperation and supporting the country, in terms of increasing their ability to monitor the sea.

In his statements, Ioannou, regarding the recruitment of the 25 new members, said that his Ministry was implementing an election commitment of the President of the Republic, Nikos Christodoulides, to strengthen the Service and expedite the examination of asylum applications. He added that with the 25 new members, the number of examiners more than doubled, while they estimate that, they will now be in a position to process around 2,300 applications monthly. He noted that, at the same time, asylum applications have decreased to around 600-700 people, which gives the opportunity to the Asylum Service to also process a backlog of around 30,000 applications.

He also said that they have managed to reduce the examination time to around one to three months which was a disincentive, as he said, for someone to come to Cyprus because, upon rejection allowances and the right to work cease, noting that most applications were being rejected.

Asked about the numbers of arrivals, Ioannou said that he was expecting the final figures for September noting, however, that preliminary figures were “very encouraging”.

He said that, until the end of August, since April, compared to last year, the Republic of Cyprus has received 50% fewer applications for political asylum, from 12,000 to 5,800, while at the same time, the return of applicants to their countries has increased, again by 50%, from 3,200 to 4,800. The same applies as regards this September compared to September last year, he said, adding that the effort is to reduce flows and increase returns “and this is currently being achieved.”

Asked if there had been any developments regarding information about the arrival of a large number of Syrians from Lebanon, the Minister said that the Cypriot authorities were in constant contact with the Lebanese authorities and that he had also communicated on Sunday with a senior official of the Government, “who thanked us for our position, that Lebanon, should be supported by the EU since it hosts 2.5 million Syrians, unlike Turkey which receives enormous financial aid”.