About 700 refugees from Ukraine have applied for sanctuary in Cyprus, according to Minister of Interior Nicos Nouris. The Ministry of Interior has begun issuing residency cards for the applicants which will allow them to apply for work, avail of medical services, and procure housing and food.
Mr. Nouris stated that "so far around 700 applications for protection have been submitted to the Department of Immigration which are being processed very quickly. These applications concern refugees who arrived in Cyprus after the start of the war in Ukraine on February 24. Under the EU directive, they have been categorized as people in need of protection".
He added that "residence cards were issued within two to three days after the application has was submitted," underlining the fact that the Department was working fast to provide the refugees with a type of "passport" valid for the next 12 months.
The Minister also noted that "there is goodwill and determination to assist these people and we hope for the support of the EU, especially in covering the financial costs so that we can be as effective as possible".
With regards to illegal immigrant arrivals, the Minister mentioned that as of March 20, the Republic of Cyprus received 4,800 new asylum applications. However, according to the Minister, there is a way to regulate arrivals in order to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in Cyprus.
He cited Greece as an example, explaining that the country reported 78,000 illegal immigrant arrivals in 2020, but with drastic and decisive measures, Greece was able to reduce the number to 4,800 the following year.