Over 30 migrants and refugees sailed to the Republic of Cyprus on Thursday, with state radars picking up their signal off the coast of Protaras just as Nicosia is challenging the European debate on migration.
Police say a wooden boat approached the island about 14 nautical miles off the eastern coast, with 30 to 40 presumptive refugees on board. Coast Guard officials escorted the wooden boat to a fishing pier in Paralimni, where officers attempted to verify the identities of the passengers.
Reports said Civil Defence officials also arrived on the scene to assist the refugees as they disembarked, while any other humanitarian assistance will be given according to standard practices.
The boat arrived in Cyprus just one day following an informal dinner of EU heads of state in Salzburg, where President Nicos Anastasiades said migration “should be tackled collectively by EU member states and always on the basis of respect for human rights."
Cypriot officials have been pursuing a dialogue with their European partners on migration for some time, with Nicosia taking on a campaign to challenge the debate, which has been long and protracted and extremely polarised within the borders of the EU.
On Tuesday, EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos visited the island and expressed his personal support as well as the support of the Commission regarding the migration challenges faced by island nation.