Minister of Interior, Nicos Nouris, and the International Organization for Migration's Regional Director in Brussels, Ola Henrikson, discussed on Monday ways to enhance and increase cooperation between the two parties. During his first visit to Cyprus, Henrikson conveyed IOM’s intention to enhance cooperation with the government of Cyprus, while Nouris said that he was looking forward to increased cooperation, particularly when it comes to assisted voluntary returns.
Speaking after the meeting in Nicosia, Nouris said that the discussion touched upon “the many problems that Cyprus is facing, as well as the management of Ukrainian refugees arriving in Cyprus.” He also stressed the important input of IOM in migration management, especially in the areas of assisted voluntary return and reintegration.
Nouris said that during the meeting he highlighted the particular needs on the part of the Cyprus government in the effort to constrain the arrival of migrants through Turkey and the Green Line, as well as in increasing the number of assisted voluntary returns, that fall under the jurisdiction of IOM. “We have declared our readiness to increase our cooperation, for Cyprus to receive assistance in tackling this issue,” he said, pointing in particular to the financial aspect, since, as he said, no other problems exist.
He also thanked Henrikson and the Head of IOM Cyprus, Natasa Xenophontos Koudouna “for the understanding and excellent cooperation in various programs.”
Ola Henrikson said that they had a fruitful discussion and referred to the long-term cooperation between IOM and the government of Cyprus. He explained that the Organization works in particular in the areas of voluntary returns, integration and reception, particularly for unaccompanied minors. He also conveyed to the government of Cyprus "a message on behalf of the IOM to enhance and increase our cooperation, where the needs might be."
“We are aware of the challenges that Cyprus is facing: there is a high number of arrivals in relation to the population”, he said and added that he was also informed about "the implications with the situation in Ukraine" which also affects Cyprus.
Replying to a journalist’s question on how the IOM could assist Cyprus in constraining migrant flows through the Green Line, Henrikson explained that this “is not the main purpose of the visit”, as the IOM mandate is “to assist governments to make migration orderly and regular.”
In reply to another question about the type of financial assistance the IOM could provide to the Cyprus government for the management of migration, Nouris explained that the financial cooperation is formed in line with the needs of the Republic of Cyprus and said that "we look forward in particular to our cooperation on returns."
Henrikson said that most of the operations that IOM runs inside other EU member states “are usually funded by EU funds and shared management funds” and added that “this is where we are looking at opportunities, but we also very much appreciate the cooperation with the Cypriot government in implementing those programs”. The needs of the government will guide us and then we apply for funding, he concluded.