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19 June, 2024
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Cyprus drives hard bargain on EU migration money

Interior minister travels with outgoing President to Brussels to highlight problem and sign deal

Newsroom / CNA

Outgoing Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades will note the disproportionate burden for the Republic of Cyprus due to the increased migration flows, during the European Council summit taking place on Thursday and Friday in Brussels, highlighting the instrumentalization of the migration issue by Turkey.

The migration issue is the main topic on the agenda of the summit, which will discuss ways of addressing it.

The European Council will also discuss about the developments in Ukraine and issues related to the economy.

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said on Wednesday that he will be escorting Anastasiades to Brussels, where he will sign on Thursday an agreement with the International Organization for Migration for a 13 million euros funding for upgrades at Pournara migrant reception centre, that will totally cost 25 million euros.

Nouris said there will be no expansion of the reception center but important improvement works will be carried out, either for hygiene, hospitality, or security

Nouris will also negotiate in Brussels the further financing of the Republic of Cyprus for providing support and aid to Ukrainian refugees who are currently in Cyprus.

Nouris said the facilities of the Pournara first reception centre for asylum seekers will be upgraded, noting that he will also negotiate additional funds from Brussels for assistance to the around 16,000 Ukrainian refugees staying in Cyprus.

In his statements after the Cabinet meeting, Nouris said that a few months ago, the European Commission approved, after many efforts by the Ministry of the Interior, a very large expenditure of €68 million for the construction of the pre-departure centre in the area of Menogeia, but they were told that there was difficulty in the allocation of more funds, mainly due to the war in Ukraine.

Nouris said that his ministry “explained with great clarity” to the European Commission that, Cyprus cannot be left alone “simply because we are the member state facing the most serious problems”. He added that the Government presented a plan for the upgrade of the Pournara centre, including the replacement of all tents with residential units, a project estimated at around €25 million. He noted that, “through very specific effort”, a mechanism has been found to provide initial funding of €13 million. This money will be allocated to the IOM, he said, with which his Ministry will sign an agreement.

This agreement, he added, will enable a €13 million funding, as a first step, for the first phase of the renovation of the Pournara centre, starting from next month, with the completion of works by October. He noted that there will be no expansion of the reception centre, but that important improvement works will be carried out, either in the hygiene facilities, or in the hospitality areas and the security areas.

The Minister also said that, while in Brussels, he will also negotiate additional subsidy for the Republic of Cyprus for the purposes of providing support and assistance to Ukrainian refugees who are staying in the country.

He said that 80,300 Ukrainians arrived in Cyprus, of which approximately 54,000 have left for their homeland, so around 16,000 remain in the country. His Ministry has issued special cards for Ukrainian refugees, so that they can receive support and assistance, he said, adding that, for this, “very large number, a very significant amount is needed to meet the needs of these people”.

So far, he said, an amount of around €6 million has been budgeted by the European Commission which, “despite the fact that it has not yet been given to us, it is considered too low”, since, authorities in Cyprus have estimated that the total expenditure will reach €15 million.

Cyprus  |  migration  |  Pournara  |  Turkey  |  EU  |  refugee crisis  |  asylum seeker

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