Cyprus to speed up asylum process

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Nicosia aims to shorten the time required to review asylum requests and deal with manifestly unfounded applications, said Interior Minister Nicos Nouris.

Speaking during a session of the House Committee on Legal Affairs, Nouris told MPs “it is well known that there is a dramatic increase and surge in the number of asylum applicants, as their numbers are very big.”

He said Cyprus has become a frequent destination for people who are persecuted due to their ethnic origin or religion.

“There are also people who try to reach Cyprus while escaping from war zones, such as Syria and those who we call refugees, either because they are in the process of searching for better living conditions and certainly those who are economic migrants,” Nouris said.

He said there are differences among migrants reaching Cyprus, and made clear that not all of them require the same handling.

“The head of a family fleeing his country to save his family is very different from someone who enters a plane and reaches Cyprus in order to secure a better future.”

Nouris said migrants crossing from the occupied north was also problematic as it amounts to almost 75% of total flows into the Republic of Cyprus.

He also referred in particular to sham marriages and people who initially come to Cyprus as students.

The Minister said there was “excessive pressure” on the Republic of Cyprus, caused by thousands of asylum applicants who comprise 3.8% of the island’s population, including people who already enjoy international protection status.

“We have to address this problem by making our mechanisms more effective.”

“We want to shorten the time that is necessary to review an asylum application by putting in place these procedures and by implementing fast-track procedures to review manifestly unfounded applications, a procedure also endorsed by the EU,” he added.