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12° Nicosia,
25 June, 2024
 
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Minister highlights progress in migration management efforts

Reduction in asylum applications and increase in returns show positive results

During a recent press conference on migration, Constantinos Ioannou, the Minister of Interior, discussed the current state of asylum applications and the return of irregular migrants to their countries of origin between March and May 2023. He emphasized the government's policies and measures to address these challenges.

Ioannou outlined five key areas of focus for the government's migration policies. Firstly, efforts have been made to enhance response capacity and strengthen human resources to expedite asylum application processing. The recruitment of additional asylum examiners has resulted in a significant increase in the processing of applications.

Secondly, there has been a notable increase in the return of third-country nationals to their home countries. Comparing figures with previous years, the Minister described the numbers as encouraging, with returns doubling in 2023 compared to the same period last year.

The third priority area is the improvement of reception and accommodation infrastructure. Notably, the construction of the Accommodation Centre at "Limni" and the Pre-Removal Centre is underway, which will contribute to more efficient asylum procedures and expedite returns.

Efforts to deter flows through the Green Line constitute the fourth priority area. The Minister highlighted diplomatic approaches to Turkey and the utilization of EU policies and tools, including the Eastern Mediterranean Action Plan. Special Officers from the Cyprus Police and the installation of electronic surveillance equipment are being employed as measures to deter illegal crossings.

Lastly, the establishment of the Deputy Ministry of Immigration and Asylum is a key focus. A bill has been sent for review, with expected submission to the Council of Ministers in June 2023 for approval.

Ioannou expressed cautious optimism about the reduction in asylum applications, citing a decrease of over 50% in the last three months compared to the previous year. The Minister underscored the importance of continued efforts and the management of migration to ensure the reception and integration of genuine refugees.

In response to questions, Ioannou addressed the installation of a European mechanism at Istanbul airport for visa supervision and disincentives for colleges in occupied territories regarding student visas. He stressed the need for cooperation from Turkey and highlighted ongoing discussions at the EU level.

The Minister acknowledged the challenges posed by the Green Line and emphasized the limited capacity for detention facilities. Efforts are underway to expand detention space, including the upcoming construction of a new center.

Ioannou emphasized the comprehensive approach being taken, including cutting off benefits for rejected applicants and launching an information campaign to inform potential asylum seekers about their rights and entitlements.

In conclusion, while acknowledging the progress made, the Minister stressed the need for continued support and assistance from the EU to address the unique challenges faced by Cyprus in managing migration effectively.

[Information sourced from official announcement]

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