Newsroom / CNA
The Interior Ministry of Cyprus announced on Wednesday that international protection applicants who have arrived in the Republic of Cyprus from January 1, 2023, onwards will not be considered eligible candidates for the voluntary relocation program. Additionally, the Ministry is exploring the possibility of revising the policy concerning Syrian nationals to stem further flows from Syria.
In a recent press release, the Ministry highlighted changes in the tactics of people smugglers, noting a shift towards migrant arrivals via the sea route. This trend has been accompanied by an increase in the number of Syrian nationals seeking refuge in the country.
Despite the rise in sea arrivals, the Ministry emphasized that asylum applications have decreased significantly compared to the previous year due to coordinated actions and measures. The efforts have been effective in reducing asylum applications from migrants originating from sub-Saharan African countries. However, people smuggling rings have adapted and are now targeting other nationalities, particularly Syrians. For instance, the number of asylum applications in June 2023 stood at 735, contrasting with 2,401 applications for the same month the previous year. Moreover, in July 2022, 1,770 applications were submitted, while the figure this year remained lower, with approximately 550 applicants.
Authorities in the Republic of Cyprus are actively engaged in managing the increasing trend of migrant arrivals, primarily from Syria, as well as combatting people smuggling rings operating in the region. A dedicated working group, established under the directive of Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou, is closely monitoring the situation at a technocratic level. The group comprises officials from the Asylum Service, the Civil Registry and Migration Department, the Immigration Office, and the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance. Their mandate is to assess the potential revision of policies concerning Syrian nationals, aiming to manage their presence in the country and prevent further flows from Syria.
At the operational level, efforts are underway to identify and apprehend smugglers facilitating the influx of migrants. Cooperation and information exchange with competent European services and organizations, including EUROPOL, are being pursued to address the challenges effectively.
To deter potential abuse of the relocation program and avoid attracting nationals from specific third countries, new international protection applicants who have arrived in Cyprus from January 1, 2023, onwards will not be considered for inclusion in the lists of eligible candidates for the voluntary relocation program. The policy aims to ensure that Cyprus does not become a transit point for nationals seeking entry to other EU member states.