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03 October, 2023
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'The goal is 1,000 voluntary returns per month,' says Ioannou

Minister of Interior highlights 4-pillared plan to tackle immigration issues

Newsroom / CNA

The government of Cyprus has outlined a four-pillar plan to address immigration issues, according to Interior Minister Konstantinos Ioannou. The first pillar is to limit the flow of asylum seekers entering Cyprus, followed by managing asylum applications and reception areas more efficiently. The third pillar focuses on accelerating procedures for asylum applications, with the goal of examining 2,000 applications per month, and increasing voluntary returns, with the aim of reaching 1,000 voluntary departures per month. The fourth pillar is to establish a pre-departure center in Limnes, which is expected to start operating in June and be completed in one and a half to two years.

Cyprus has faced disproportionate flows of asylum seekers relative to its size and population, with asylum seekers and those with international protection currently making up 6% of the population. This has put significant pressure on available resources, the reception system, and the immigration management system. The government has announced plans to create a Deputy Ministry of Immigration to address these challenges.

The goal is to increase voluntary returns to around 1,000 per month by the end of the year.

In terms of infrastructure, Cyprus is undergoing upgrades to the Pournara center worth 25 million euros, with funding from the International Organization for Migration, and the Kofinou hospitality center is being renovated and upgraded, with the grand opening scheduled for June. Additionally, an 80-million-euro project is expected to start on July 7, with 67 million euros financed by the European Union, to establish a pre-departure center and hospitality center in the Lakes.

The government aims to increase the processing capacity for asylum applications from the current rate of 1,100-1,200 applications per month to over 2,000 per month with the recruitment of additional personnel. There are currently about 30,000 pending applications, and the goal is to examine both the existing applications and the pending ones to address the backlog. Appeals to the administrative court of international protection are also being addressed, with new arrangements made to expedite the process.

The government also aims to increase voluntary returns, with about 2,047 people returning in the first three months of 2023, or about 700 people per month. The goal is to increase voluntary returns to around 1,000 per month by the end of the year. However, the issue of deportations remains a challenge as Cyprus does not have a pre-departure center. The government hopes that the establishment of a pre-departure center in Limnes will help address this issue when it becomes operational in the coming years.

The overall strategy of the government of Cyprus is to limit the flow of asylum seekers, manage applications and reception areas more efficiently, accelerate procedures for applications and returns, and establish a pre-departure center to address immigration challenges. The government acknowledges the need for increased capacity, infrastructure upgrades, and more efficient processes to manage the influx of asylum seekers in Cyprus.


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