Fourteen unaccompanied minors have been transferred from the Republic of Cyprus to Finland, while another 84 foreign nationals were flown back to their countries in what the government described as "voluntary returns."
According to the Interior Ministry, 14 unaccompanied minors on Friday were transferred to Finland while another 84 migrants and asylum seekers were also flown back to their countries, the ministry also said according to the Cyprus News Agency. Earlier this year, Finland said it would host asylum seekers from Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Italy, in a bid to facilitate their humanitarian situation.
CNA reported that the International Organization for Migration and the Republic of Cyprus “organized the assisted voluntary return of 84 migrants to their countries last Friday,” including 21 nationals from India and 63 from Nepal.
A single Asia-bound flight took off at Larnaca International Airport on Friday, landing the following day first in New Delhi and then in Kathmandu, CNA reported, adding that “the majority of the migrants... were students who could no longer pay their fees in Cyprus and contacted IOM for assistance.”
A constitutional amendment recently passed by the House made it possible for the government to deport rejected asylum applicants even if they have pending appeals
A constitutional amendment recently passed by the House made it possible for the government to deport rejected asylum applicants even if they had a visa and fell 'out of visa status' or have pending appeals following a rejection of their applications.
Over the summer, a fierce debate had also erupted in Aglandjia, east Nicosia, over whether a building should be converted into a facility for hosting unaccompanied minors, with local resident groups protesting the plan prompting mayoral candidates to enter the discussion.
Similar debates took place in other parts of the island, with some local residents objecting to having a refugee centre for unaccompanied minors in their area.
Some data show there are over 200 foreign children who have been granted protection status in the Republic of Cyprus, while two out of six foster care facilities used for unaccompanied minors are operated by the state.
An interior ministry press release said Finland had offered to host the 14 minors, citing Article 80 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. According to the treaty, policies of the Union and their implementation shall be governed by the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility, including its financial implications, between the member states.
The coordinated effort between the state’s Migration department and the European Asylum Support Office aims at supporting member states under pressure.
The Republic of Cyprus is paying 10% of the cost for the programme while the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund 2014-2020 was footing the bill at 90%.
The government has also resumed deportation flights after the lockdown ended earlier this year, with reports saying at least three flights carrying over 400 Georgian nationals, both illegal entries and overstays, took off at Larnaca airport with the cooperation of FRONTEX.