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13 April, 2024
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Lebanon rejects immediate return of migrants from Cyprus

Nicosia navigates challenges in repatriating 116 migrants, citing technical issues and Lebanon's refusal.


Authorities encountered obstacles in its operation to promptly repatriate 116 Syrian migrants on Monday, February 12th, as Lebanon refused their return. Deputy Government Spokesman Yiannis Antoniou conveyed that despite the setback, ongoing efforts are in progress, highlighting certain technical challenges that need resolution.

The Interior Ministry received information from Lebanese authorities about a boat potentially in distress in international waters. Cyprus initiated a search and rescue mission, coordinating with Lebanon for the migrants' return, deploying three Port Police vessels. Upon nearing Lebanon, authorities were informed that disembarkation would not be permitted. Consequently, plans were made for their return to Cyprus and transfer to the Pournara facility.

An informal agreement between Cyprus and Lebanon for the return of migrants exists, but it is not binding. Lebanon may decline acceptance based on prevailing circumstances. The decision to swiftly return the migrants was influenced by the vessel's Lebanese registry and passengers' claims of long-term residence in Lebanon, clarified Interior Ministry Spokesperson Margarita Kyriakou.

Minister of Interior Constantinos Ioannou, addressing concerns during German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier's visit, acknowledged Lebanon's migration challenges, attributing the refusal to various factors. He emphasized the issue's political handling, maintaining ongoing communication with Lebanese authorities amid the country's challenging situation.

Cyprus  |  Lebanon  |  migrants  |  refugees  |  migration

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