by Yiannis Panayiotou
Migration flows to Europe from Africa and Asia are becoming increasingly influenced by geopolitical realities and socioeconomic developments. The European states geographically closest to the countries of origin of migratory flows are the most affected by the arrival of a disproportionately large number of migrants compared to the region's capacity. The ability of asylum seekers to claim international protection status, in particular, is being abused, with a large number of non-beneficiaries taking advantage of this opportunity to stay in host countries during the examination period. Thus, effective management of this situation is required, both at the European and national levels, so that slow examination procedures do not serve as an attraction, but rather serve as a deterrent, in conjunction with improved entry control and policing to increase returns and expulsions.
in order to effectively manage the migration issue, the procedures for the examination of asylum applications be accelerated through the targeted strengthening of competent services
Nikos Christodoulides proposes that, in order to effectively manage the migration issue, the procedures for the examination of asylum applications be accelerated through the targeted strengthening of competent services, so that delayed examination does not make Cyprus an attractive destination. Furthermore, the very small number of applicants who are eventually granted refugee and subsidiary protection status (less than 5% of all applications submitted) is typical. To that end, it is proposed to further simplify examination procedures, use technology, increase the number of staff, and strengthen policing in order to identify those who are in Cyprus illegally, while it is mentioned that, for example, the processing of manifestly unfounded applications, which number in the thousands, can be completed in a matter of weeks rather than months.
In particular, additional man-hours are estimated to be required to complete the processing of the approximately 30,000 pending applications through the secondment of a certain number of employees to the Asylum Service, the increase in the number of EU asylum service staff in Cyprus, the increase in overtime for application processing, and the formation of a trained team of a large number of Civil Service staff to provide support to the Asylum Services. The combined actions are expected to complete the processing of the 30,000 pending applications within twelve months. Taking into account the current capacities of the public administration, which make these solutions realistic and doable, the cost of these actions has been calculated and is very low compared to the current cost of the applicants whose applications are still pending to stay in Cyprus. The Pournara First Reception Centre's management must be improved, and other lodging options must be utilized, at the same time as it is necessary to increase security at the entry points to the Republic of Cyprus-controlled territory and to improve the prospects for returning refugees to their countries of origin. Nikos Christodoulides also suggests setting up a deputy ministry of immigration to oversee the coordination and execution of all necessary steps in this direction.
The more effective management of the migration issue is a central priority of Nikos Christodoulides' administration, which can be implemented immediately by focusing on the faster processing of asylum applications alongside other aspects of the problem. The Republic of Cyprus has the capacity to deal effectively with abuse of the institutional obligation to provide protection to people who are persecuted and at risk, so that abusers do not see the inability to process quickly as a window of opportunity to remain in Cyprus as applicants, knowing in advance that they are not entitled to international protection. These opportunities can be exploited immediately and will produce visible results as soon as the program is implemented.
[This article was translated from its Greek original]