Some 20 Syrian asylum seekers have been transferred to a reception centre outside Nicosia after being rescued at sea from an inflatable vessel that was drifting off the island's south-eastern tip.
The Syrians – 10 men, two women and eight children – told police that they bought the inflatable craft and a GPS from Lebanon, paying €1,000 for them. The two families began their journey from Lebanon to Cyprus on October 5. The police said the migrants are planning to seek asylum in Cyprus.
They were rescued on Monday after a merchant vessel spotted the smaller boat south of Cape Greco on and notified Cypriot authorities.
A police patrol boat was dispatched to pick up the group on the drifting boat took them to the port in Larnaca for processing.
Cyprus has appealed for the European Union's help in handling an increasing number of arriving migrants. Cypriot officials say they can barely keep up with asylum applications.
EU data puts Cyprus top among the bloc’s 28 nations according to the number of asylum applications per capita.
Europe’s highest number of first-time asylum applicants relative to the population were registered in Cyprus, during the second quarter of 2018, according to Eurostat.
Relative to its population, the largest number of first-time applicants during April-June was recorded in Cyprus (1,656 applicants per million population), followed by Greece (1,521), Malta (889) and Luxembourg (703).