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12° Nicosia,
19 June, 2024
 
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Lebanon to Cyprus: $3000 per person for the deadly journey

Exposing the dangerous migration routes and smuggling networks

Apostolis Tomaras

Apostolis Tomaras

The security authorities of the Republic were not oblivious to the presence of networks smuggling illegal immigrants westwards through Cyprus, but it was only last summer that they managed to not only detect but also arrest them. Since then, the competent state bodies have been actively targeting the traffickers whose operations extend from Lebanon to Cyprus. While these efforts have dealt a significant blow to the traffickers and the illegal flows from neighboring Lebanon, the volatile situation in the neighboring country has hampered the effectiveness of curbing illegal immigration. The cooperation from the Lebanese side and other mechanisms utilized by the authorities of the Republic have played a crucial role in achieving positive results. Valuable information collected from migrants arriving in Cyprus has significantly aided in identifying the networks trafficking illegal migrants from Lebanon. This information led to the arrests of foreigners who have been permanently residing in Cyprus in recent years. According to the collected information, the journey from Lebanon to Cyprus costs $3,000 per person, with expenses shared between the networks in the two countries.

The network

As seen in other countries, the networks in Cyprus demonstrate a high degree of adaptability to avoid detection and dismantling. In a bid to silence migrants providing information, traffickers resort to blackmail, leveraging relatives in Lebanon waiting to travel to Cyprus. The trafficking ring reportedly originates from the Lebanese coast and extends to Cyprus. Last August, a coordinated operation involving the police and other state agencies led to the arrest of numerous individuals offering services to those arriving illegally in Cyprus. The network primarily facilitated the migration of people from Syria to Cyprus, with the arrested individuals acting as intermediaries. Police sources indicate that the arrested persons, of Arab origin, have been residing in Cyprus for the past few years. It appears that the offshoot of the ring in Cyprus facilitated the illegal immigrants' stay on the island and assisted in bureaucratic processes for potential entry into Europe.

Lebanon

The positive outcomes of last summer are attributed to the cooperation between Cyprus and Lebanon, which played a pivotal role in dismantling the network and reducing migration flows. Efforts to strengthen cooperation between the two countries will be pursued, with the President of the Republic scheduled to visit Lebanon accompanied by several ministers and state officials. Discussions during the visit will solely focus on the migration issue. Nicosia, alongside other EU countries, seeks to provide further support to Lebanon and its government to address westward migration flows. Additionally, the President will seek the European Commission's support on the migration issue during a meeting in Athens.

[This article was translated from its Greek original and edited for clarity and brevity]

TAGS
Cyprus  |  Lebanon  |  migration  |  smuggling  |  trafficking

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