In a bill submitted to Parliament, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior are requesting the recruitment of 300 special police officers with a contract of up to 28 months to monitor the green line and conduct other tasks relating to the increased migration flow into the Republic of Cyprus.
The bill, if approved, will allow the Chief of Police to hire special police officers through an expedited procedure to perform support duties in relation to immigration and the immediate deployment of patrol teams at the green line 24 hours a day.
Mr. Nouris expressed particular concern about the situation in recent months, stating that there were 7620 asylum applications in the first four months of 2022, compared to 2810 last year.
The 300 contract police officers will be hired for 18 months with the right to renew their contract for up to 10 more months. Their duties will include monitoring the Green Line, checking and escorting illegal immigrants and guarding detention centers.
Interior Minister Nikos Nouris spoke of a state of emergency and the need to speed up recruitment processes, saying the country could not afford to wait for time-consuming decisions.
He added that if at some point migrant flows decrease, the state will not continue to be burdened by the costs of these contract police officers. The annual salary of these contractors is expected to reach 7.8 million euros, while another 1.1 million euros will be needed for their equipment and 1.2 million euros for the purchase of vehicles.
He noted that in the first months of 2022 the Ministry of Interior repatriated 1645 illegal immigrants out of more than 7000 who arrived in Cyprus.
The minister told the Committee on Legal Affairs that the problem presented on the green line paints a picture of a European country that can exercise no control, with Turkey increasing its immigration pressure.
The Minister also stated that it had informed the EU about the methods used by traffickers, presenting to the commission 317 examples of actual travel documents used by migrants. The process involves migrants departing from sub-Saharan African countries and arriving at Tymbou airport via Istanbul. There they are given a 60-day visa allowing them to cross various points of the green line in the territory of the Republic.
Mr. Nouris also stated that due to the high numbers of migrants, the situation has reached a point where immigrants call the police and ask to be picked up.
Mr. Nouris expressed particular concern about the situation in recent months, stating that there were 7620 asylum applications in the first four months of 2022, compared to 2810 in the corresponding period last year.
He also said that Cyprus asked the European Commission to suspend the possibility of receiving asylum applications, as had been done in Greece, something that the EU did not allow.
He also noted that 92% of illegal immigrant arrivals were from the green line in 2022 and that in the last 12 months the physiognomy of migrants has changed, as the majority are from the Congo, followed by Nigeria, Syria, Pakistan and Bangladesh in relation to mainly people of Asian descent who came in the past. He also referred to the increased involvement of Africans in cases of violent conflict.
He explained that the migrants do not want to stay in Cyprus but are deceived by traffickers who tell them that they are coming into European territory and from there they can go wherever they want in the EU. however, Cyprus is outside the Schengen area and migrants ultimately end up being "trapped" in Cyprus.
Mr. Nouris also explained that there is a need for a combination of physical obstacles, surveillance units and cameras to deal with the situation. He also stressed the importance of placing natural barriers to prevent the passage of migrants and said that the destruction of these barriers by some migrants cannot be allowed to happen. He also called on the courts to crack down on traffickers.