The government in the Republic of Cyprus has renewed its response to migration flows to the island, tasking authorities and lawmakers with tightening measures in a number of areas.
President Nicos Anastasiades on Tuesday held a Cabinet meeting where measures were decided to deal with increased migration flows to the island.
Government spokesperson Marios Pelekanos said measures decided during the meeting would be aimed at preventing undocumented migrants from entering the Republic as well as cracking down on undeclared work.
Pelekanos also suggested the discussion linked migration flows with crime on the island, adding that police patrols would intensify in specific communities with a large population of migrants or unsuitable living conditions.
“The President also gave instructions to categorize the measures and submit legislative proposals where necessary,” Pelekanos said.
'The President also gave instructions to categorize the measures and submit legislative proposals where necessary'
The meeting came days after police arrested three men in Paphos, two Syrians and later a Greek Cypriot, in connection with a violent altercation in Emba community, Paphos district.
Media reports initially pointed to locals accusing foreigners of launching an unprovoked attack while information emerging later suggested a refugee was assaulted after refusing to comply with a man’s car parking rule.
Tensions have been high in areas where large numbers of foreign nationals, mainly refugees and asylum seekers, have been residing, including Paphos’ Emba and Chloraka communities, with authorities highlighting concerns over population, hygiene, and employment.
Pelekanos said new measures would also tackle overcrowding in migrant camps and detention centers, including central prisons in Nicosia where many asylum seekers were being held on misdemeanor violations, including attempt to travel under false a passport.
The government reportedly has also launched plans to hire 300 officers to man the UN buffer zone that splits the island between a Greek Cypriot recognized south and a Turkish Cypriot north recognized only by Turkey.
Nicosia has also reaffirmed its goal to continue mounting pressure on Brussels through memoranda of cooperation on the issue but also exerting influence on the island’s call for quick returns of economic migrants to safe countries.
Asked to comment on migration flows from Ukraine, Pelekanos said Cyprus has to deal with the influx of refugees from Ukraine too.
"The resilience of the systems at European level is under even greater pressure. But we are called to do that and we have to do that, to manage both issues at the same time, always in cooperation with the EU," he said.