Cypriot Interior Minister Nicos Nouris called for European Union solidarity in managing asylum seekers as countries like Cyprus cannot cope with increased flows of migrants on their own.
He said Cyprus is dealing with a large influx of irregular migrants which is prohibiting the country’s ability to form its own policy to deal with such flows.
Nouris said that the demand for a new approach came from all “frontline countries” such as Malta, Greece and Italy.
The Interior Minister argued the EU must form a policy which facilitates the return of people from third countries who do not qualify as refugees.
“What the EU, but also the international community, must understand, first of all, is that these large numbers of economic migrants can no longer be tolerated, simply because they exceed our capacity. We do not have the infrastructure,” said Nouris.
He assured the government will not send back people whose lives were in danger in their country of origin.
Nouris said, “today we have 12,000 people who have already been offered international protection, while 17,000 asylum applications are pending examination, and another 4,000 applications are before the international protection court.
A total of 32,000 people make up 3.8% of the Republic’s population.”
He noted that the equivalent percentage for Greece is 1%.
He said his Ministry is preparing a strategy which will be presented to President Nicos Anastasiades.
New measures entail “strengthening of refugee welcoming infrastructure”.
The authorities are also looking into ways of speeding up the assessment of asylum applications.