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12° Nicosia,
04 December, 2022
 
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Immigrant arrivals will more than double in 2022

Extremely worrying figures of illegal arrivals in Cyprus in the first five months of this year

Apostolis Tomaras

Apostolis Tomaras

The official data on illegal arrivals in territories controlled by the Republic of Cyprus are alarming. For the first half of 2022, the number of asylum seekers has skyrocketed, compared to 2021, with the current year looking to break a decade's old record.

Data available to "K" from the competent services of the Republic show that the current situation may be the tip of the iceberg compared to the overall picture at the end of 2022.

In contrast to previous years, the first five months of 2022 show a shift towards Africa. Of the 9,647 asylum seekers as of May 2022, 1,735 are from the Congo, 1,733 from Nigeria and 1,181 from Syria.

As clearly shown in the figures and correctly pointed out by the competent authorities, the increase in asylum seekers in 2022 compared to the corresponding period of 2021 (January-May) amounts to 142%. Specifically, in the first five months of 2022, asylum seekers amount to 9647, a record number from 2015 onwards, with the exception of 2019, when asylum seekers rose to 13,648 for the whole year. If the figures for the first five months of 2022 are compared to the corresponding figure for 2021 in absolute numbers, asylum seekers have increased by 5,665.

The numbers

In order to better understand the pressure exerted by migration flows, a simple comparison of the data from 2015 onwards is sufficient. The data show a gradual increase in flows with a relative decline during the pandemic period in 2020. In 2015 arrivals increased to 2,253, in 2016 to 2,936, in 2017 to 4,582, in 2018 to 7,761, in 2019 it doubled to 13,648 , and in 2020 it fell to 7,094, but doubling again in 2021 to 13,235. In the first five months of 2022, the number of asylum seekers is 9,647, a very large number, if we take into account, primarily, that this is only the first half of the year and secondly, that we have entered a period in which weather conditions are favoring migratory flows.

The nationalities

Also of interest are the data showing the countries of origin of those arriving in the Republic of Cyprus through illegal means. In contrast to previous years, the first five months of 2022 show a shift towards Africa. Of the 9,647 asylum seekers as of May 2022, 1,735 are from the Congo, 1,733 from Nigeria and 1,181 from Syria. As can be seen in the relevant table, arrivals from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia are at high levels.

NATIONALITIES OF ASYLUM APPLICANTS

JANUARY - MAY 2022

CONGO .......................................................... 1.735

NIGERIA .......................................................... 1,733

SYRIA ................................................. 1,181

PAKISTAN ............................................... 977

BANGLADESH ................................... 648

SOMALIA .............................................. 557

ΚΑΜΕΡΟΥΝ .......................................... 551

AFGHANISTAN .......................................... 522

INDIA................................................. .... 272

NEPAL ................................................. .218

OTHER COUNTRIES ................................... 1.253

TOTAL .......................................... 9,647

The Green Line

The official data also show the huge problems that exist at the Green Line, which remains the main entry point of illegal arrivals in the Republic. Of the 13,235 asylum seekers in 2021, 85% entered territories controlled by the Republic from the Green Line. For the first five months of 2022 the percentage increased. Of the 9,647 asylum seekers, 94% crossed the Green Line. On a positive note, repatriation procedures have been underway since 2018.  This has been one of the more effective measures applied in order to reduce the pressure from the large numbers of migrants entering the Republic. In 2018, repatriations amounted to 695, in 2019 they decreased to 417, in 2020 they tripled and reached 1,272, in 2021 they reached 2,230 and for the first five months of 2022 they amounted to 1,952.

EU problem illegal arrivals

However, in the wider area of ​​immigration, the data that European organizations have shown is that the issue of migrant flows is a problem for the EU. And this can be seen from data recently published by the European Border and Coast Guard (FRONTEX). For the same period, January - May 2022, at the EU level the number of arrivals increased to 86,420 by 82%. Arrivals in May alone amounted to 23,500. FRONTEX does not include the 5.5 million refugees from Ukraine who have entered EU territory from Moldova. In irregular entries, FRONTEX data for the first five months of 2022 show a doubling of the corresponding first five months of 2021, with the main input coming from the western Balkans. Irregular arrivals from the eastern Mediterranean amount to 13,000, an increase of 116% compared to last year. FRONTEX data show that the central Mediterranean corridor was used by 16,000 immigrants.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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