The head of the anti-trafficking unit in Cyprus, Rita Superman, says some migrants know how to cheat the system citing past examples of child marriages from Syria and women falsely seeking human trafficking protections.
Superman told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that there is an odd mixture of factors involving human trafficking and exploitation, saying in many cases individual migrants become vulnerable and fall victim of human traffickers.
The anti-trafficking chief, who chairs an Interpol task force committee this year, says the link between exploitation and trafficking can be evident in children forced into marriages as well as the abuse of foreign student visas, spousal visas, and tourist permits.
Superman says her office even came across about ten incidents of child marriage 3-4 years ago, during the peak of the Syrian humanitarian crisis
Superman spoke of an “organised influx of Cameroonians” in Cyprus who appear to have detailed knowledge of the steps involved in the asylum application process.
“They know all the procedures leading to the identification of a trafficking victim and so they reach out to us. It is not impossible that they are indeed human trafficking victims, but it is very difficult to confirm it,” Superman said.
She also said her office came across around ten incidents of child marriage about three or four years ago, during the peak of the Syrian humanitarian crisis.
“This mainly has to do with underage girls from Syria, who come to Cyprus on marriage contracts to meet the groom,” Superman said.
Superman says the Republic of Cyprus does not recognise these marriages as legal and even though officials are not aware of any incidents of late, “we know they are taking place,” she added.
The official, who oversaw the expansion of the anti-trafficking unit over recent years, said there is an “incredible combination of factors” in the way human trafficking of persons takes shape in each country, adding that Cyprus is receiving a ”worrying” number of arrivals compared to its size and capacity.