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14 June, 2024
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Interior Minister calls for urgent refugee return evaluation

Is Syria safe for refugee returns?

Newsroom / CNA

Minister for the Interior Constantinos Ioannou raised the need to review the status of Syria as a safe or not destination for the purposes of returning of refugees and migrants, during his intervention at the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the EU, according to a press release.

Ioannou stressed the need "to re-evaluate the current status of Syria and to consider the possibility, even on a pilot basis, of designating certain areas of Syria as safe areas, based on a relevant assessment by the European Asylum Agency (EUAA)".

He also noted that "after such a long period of time" the EU should reconsider “its decisions on the issue on the basis of the realities that exist today and on the basis of the negative data generated by the continuation of the current policy".

According to the statement, "Cyprus' position received considerable support", with member states "such as Greece, Austria and Sweden in their own interventions agreeing on the need to adopt a new political stance on the issue".

Ioannou noted in his intervention during the debate on the external dimension of migration, that "the continuous flows by sea are affecting the effectiveness of the measures taken at national level and the significant benefits of the implementation so far of the Action Plan for the Eastern Mediterranean".

The Minister also thanked the Commission for its commitment to the implementation of the Action Plan and said that the Plan has had positive results, especially with regard to irregular flows from Turkey to Cyprus via the Green Line.

He expressed the hope that "this reduction will continue", adding that Cyprus looks forward to the "mutually beneficial implementation of the EU statement on Turkey, in which Turkey will act in good faith to prevent irregular migration flows".

Regarding the situation in the region, Ioannou "expressed serious concern about the situation in Gaza and the migratory pressure on Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt and the ability of these countries to stem it".

Referring to Lebanon in particular, Ioannou said that the country already hosts more than 1.5 million Syrians and as evidenced by the flows arriving in Cyprus from the country, the country seems to be at its limits in terms of its capacity to manage the situation.

He also underlined the importance of establishing strategic partnerships with key countries in the immediate neighbourhood and the need to strengthen cooperation with countries of origin in order to address the root causes of the phenomenon.

Ioannou also had a meeting with the Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides.

Cyprus  |  Syria  |  safety  |  refugees  |  migration

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