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25 June, 2024
 
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Cyprus faces migration crisis amid infrastructure strain

Rising illegal arrivals and overwhelmed facilities prompt concerns of humanitarian emergency

Newsroom

Cyprus is facing a mounting migration crisis as data obtained by K on Thursday reveals a surge in illegal immigrant arrivals, straining the government's resources and raising concerns about a humanitarian emergency, according to a report by APostolos Tomaras in Kathimerini's Sunday edition yesterday.

The numbers

According to official figures, illegal arrivals in the first quarter of 2024 nearly match the total for 2022 and surpass those of 2023. Notably, sea arrivals in 2024 have doubled compared to the previous years, reaching 2,522, while Green Line arrivals have declined.

Departures

While arrivals surge, there's been notable activity on the departure front. By March 31, 2024, 2,891 illegal immigrants left Cyprus, with 1,884 relocations since the start of the program. Additionally, 126 transfers to other EU member states occurred in the first quarter of 2024.

Infrastructure challenges

Cyprus's infrastructure for migrant reception and accommodation is under significant strain. The "Pournara" First Reception Centre, designed to house 800 people, is currently accommodating 1,281. Upgrades are underway, funded by the European Commission, to increase capacity to 2,000 by 2024.

The Kofinou Centre, serving asylum applicants, is at its 400-bed capacity, currently housing 290. Expansion plans aim to increase capacity to 750 beds. The Menoyia centre, hosting 207 applicants, is also undergoing upgrades to increase capacity to 1,000 beds and create a Pre-Accommodation Centre for 800.

Managing the crisis

At a Presidential Palace meeting, options for managing the crisis were discussed. The government's focus is on managing, rather than preventing, illegal flows, as Cyprus is obliged to offer protection to those in danger. Efforts include seeking European solidarity, de-escalating with other EU states, upgrading Lebanon's status in combating illegal immigration, increasing Lebanese surveillance with Frontex's help, and reviewing migrant subsidies.

The path forward

With illegal arrivals soaring, Cyprus faces an uphill battle to manage the crisis, navigate international agreements, and bolster its infrastructure to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.

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