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28 May, 2024
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Refugees transfer boats in high sea pushback off Cyprus

Coast guard blocks boat with 100 presumptive asylum seekers, pushback ordered back to Lebanon


About a hundred presumptive refugees, whose boat was blocked from entering Cypriot waters on Monday night, were reportedly transferred to another vessel bound for Lebanon over their objections.

According to local media, a boat carrying about 100 irregular migrants including children was spotted Monday night off the southeastern coast of Cyprus.

Cypriot coast guard officials had been monitoring the vessel overnight, reports said, while on Tuesday morning the presumptive refugees, who were reportedly seeking asylum in the Republic of Cyprus, were ordered to board another standby safety vessel.

Local media said the refugees did not wish to be transferred to the standby vessel, understood by Knews to be the Ledra Pride, which listed Limassol as an official destination.

About 40 Cypriot regular police officers were said to be onboard a Lebanon-bound vessel carrying the refugees back to an original port of departure, but it was not clarified whether this was the Ledra Pride or another cargo ship nearby that was waiting for a high seas transfer.

Police officers concerned about their safety ask for bigger boat

Earlier reports said police officers had complained over the size of the safety vessel, saying there were security concerns as there were far more souls on board than the maximum number allowed.

A controversial agreement between Nicosia and Beirut provides for Syrian refugees to be pushed back if they came from Lebanon.

Critics including European officials have accused Nicosia of illegally pushing back refugees and denying their right to seek asylum.

The government of the Republic of Cyprus insists they are not rejecting legitimate asylum seekers but are blocking those they consider to be economic migrants from immigrating to the island unlawfully.

Cyprus  |  Lebanon  |  refugee  |  asylum  |  boat  |  vessel  |  coast guard  |  pushback  |  high seas transfer  |  migration

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