Cyprus has taken robust measures to address the escalating migration flows from the east, particularly from Lebanon, in close collaboration with its neighbor. Recent collaborative efforts between Nicosia and Beirut have shown signs of effectiveness, with the Ministry of Interior in Cyprus demonstrating its willingness to support the neighboring state through various means.
Simultaneously, on the political front, Cyprus appears ready to back Lebanon's fragile political landscape within the European Union. Cyprus is advocating for European Union economic support similar to the EU-Turkey agreement to manage migration flows. This proposal has been brought to the attention of the relevant European Commission authorities and is expected to be further promoted at the highest political level by Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides.
Initially, Cypriot Minister of Interior, Konstantinos Ioannou informed the Lebanese government about deepening cooperation through joint maritime patrols and equipment provision.
Cyprus Policy Shift
The Cyprus-Lebanon collaboration in managing migration appears to break the deadlock that initially emerged with migrant returns and later the crackdown on departures. This shift towards practical solutions for addressing illegal migration finds its origins in Cyprus's embargo on contacts with the Assad government in Syria and Turkey's reluctance to curb the flow of irregular migrants to Cyprus. With attention now on Lebanon, it appears that human trafficking networks, primarily involving Syrian nationals, have been operating, endangering lives by using fishing boats to transport migrants.
Collaboration with Lebanon
Konstantinos Ioannou has laid the groundwork for cooperation with Beirut. Following his discussions with the Lebanese government, the main objective of Cyprus is becoming a reality - the return of several migrants who had initially departed from Lebanon. The second issue at the forefront of Cyprus's concerns is addressing human trafficking networks. To tackle this, the Minister of Interior has established a special task force comprising personnel from the Asylum Service, the Population and Migration Department, the Foreigners and Immigration Service, and the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. The task force's mandate includes exploring possibilities for revising policies regarding Syrian nationals already in the Republic of Cyprus and preventing further flows from Syria.
Recent actions taken by the Republic of Cyprus aimed at potentially receiving a significant number of migrants (500) from Lebanon's shores are primarily part of prevention efforts, always in cooperation with the Lebanese government. The information was gathered from illegal migrants (95) who arrived in Cyprus in recent times. As part of the information exchange, the Lebanese government was immediately informed about the prevention of departures to Cyprus and the identification of traffickers. Additionally, Cypriot security authorities have carried out arrests of individuals, mainly of Arabic origin, within the country who appear to have been cooperating with traffickers from Lebanon.
[This article was translated from its Greek original]