Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides says Cyprus has exceeded its limits in the numbers of refugees flowing to the island, but he rejected a description in a German publication that drew parallels to the Lampedusa crisis.
Petrides was asked to comment on a recent article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a conservative German newspaper, which spoke of a refugee crisis in Cyprus while likening it to the Lampedusa disaster.
He said Cyprus is under a lot of pressure due to the high numbers of refugees seeking asylum in the Republic.
“We are trying not to turn Cyprus into a depository of souls,” the minister said.
The Cypriot minister rejected the characterisation in the German paper, saying that 'equating the situation in Lampedusa with the situation in Cyprus is far fetched'
The Italian island of Lampedusa, known as the “door of Europe” saw some 400,000 migrants arrive by way of the Mediterranean sea in the past two decades. In October 2013, a boat from Libya carrying 500 refugees and migrants sank off the coast of the island, where 366 bodies later recovered in what was seen as a global disaster.
Media reports around the world wrote about migrants stepping foot on Italian sand along with many others in body bags, as the famous golden beaches were becoming increasingly empty with tourists choosing to holiday elsewhere.
While Cyprus has been raising the alarm over a potential crisis, Nicosia has also been pushing for a single EU migration policy that would make refugee redistribution not only mandatory but also relative to population sizes of member states.
Petrides said Cyprus has received more refugees than the island’s capacity in recent times, urging once again European leaders to find solutions.
But the Cypriot minister rejected the description in the German paper. He argued that “it would be a far-fetch to equate the situation in Lampedusa with the situation in Cyprus.”