Nicosia is pushing for a single EU migration policy that would make refugee redistribution not only mandatory but also relative to population sizes of member states.
According to Eurostat figures from 2017, Greece and Cyprus receive larger numbers of refugee applications relative to their population sizes, with Cypriot authorities seeing a 56% increase in asylum cases filed in 2017.
In 2018, there were 2,127 applications filed for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) regarding 2,435 individuals. These numbers, which run through June of this year, show an upward trend with conservative estimates in the vicinity of 40% according to Kathimerini’s Apostolos Tomaras.
But first-time asylum applications overall in the EU were down by 25% in the first quarter, compared with the same period in 2017.
'European solidarity should not be limited to money. It ought to address the full spectrum of the migration policy,' Petrides said
In a recent interview with Kathimerini Cyprus, Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides said some countries ought to do their share when it comes to accepting refugees under a redistribution scheme.
“European solidarity should not be limited to money. It ought to address the full spectrum of the migration policy,” Petrides said.
The minister also said that in addressing these challenges, countries should take into consideration the automatic redistribution scheme for refugees, where individuals seeking asylum should be transferred to other member states based on local population quota formulas.
Critics pointed out that some member states refuse to do their share when it comes to accepting refugees under redistribution, according to Kathimerini.
In 2017, there were 550 ‘forced returns’ while they numbered 944 in the previous year. There were 1,762 forced returns in 2015, 2,959 in 2014, and 3,690 in 2013.
The cost of detaining an individual in the Republic of Cyprus is estimated to be around €2500 per month.
Thousands under the radar
A recent report on migration put the figure of undocumented migrants to 12,764 people who remain in the Republic of Cyprus unlawfully, according to Kathimerini Cyprus, while also citing police estimates of total undocumented migrants up to 20,000.
Undocumented migrants include individuals who came to the Republic of Cyprus legally but overstayed their visa or otherwise violated the terms of their visa.
As Cyprus joins other countries that are putting political pressure for a single EU policy, it remains unclear whether all members can get on the on the same page with the same urgency.
Overall, sea arrivals stood at 44,000 people by the start of the summer this year, according to UN data, a far cry from the three years ago peak when more than a million refugees and migrants stepped foot on European soil.
But EU leaders still remain divided over how to address legitimate asylum seekers, with some countries threatening to take a tougher stance. Others raise concerns over secondary movements of immigrants, where people arriving in coastal states make it to the wealthiest ones like Germany across the EU’s open borders.