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18 July, 2024
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Cyprus alleges human trafficking at occupied zone universities

Ministry of Interior flags student visa abuse in Cyprus

Newsroom / CNA

The Republic of Cyprus has filed a complaint against "academic institutions" in the occupied areas to the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) and following these complaints, ENQA, as the relevant European body, has begun investigating these "universities" and their relationship with possible human trafficking, an announcement by the Ministry of Interior says.

The announcement, issued Monday, says that the Interior Ministry and the Education Ministry, in collaboration with the Agency for Certification of Higher Education (DIPAE), filed a complaint against "universities" in the occupied territories, citing detailed information on 188 cases of third-country nationals, who arrived in the occupied areas on "student visas" and right away they fled to the Republic and requested asylum status.

Examining the evidences provided by the Republic, it was established that these are not real students, the Ministry says, adding that the findings prove that these are repeated cases which might be guided by human trafficking rings.

The Ministry points out that these cases led to the intense pressure that Cyprus received, with mass arrivals, mainly of African nationals, through the buffer zone.

These nationals are vulnerable to exploitation by trafficking rings and therefore the Republic promoted, among other measures, the implementation of the provisions included in the Action Plan for the Eastern Mediterranean, exerting pressure in the direction of Turkey, in cooperation with the European Commission, the Frontex Agency and Europol.

In addition, it carried out an informational online campaign in Sub-Saharan African countries, citing the real facts on the ground, in relation to irregular migration. The Interior Ministry recalls that as a result of the measures taken, there was a 65% decrease in the number of arrivals through the buffer zone, as well as a 85% drop in the arrivals of African nationals.

At the same time, the Government's policy has led to the decongestion of the reception and hospitality centers and the First Reception Center currently hosts around 250 people.

Cyprus has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. The entity in the occupied areas has unilaterally declared itself to be an independent republic but it enjoys no international recognition.

Cyprus  |  visa  |  education

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