Cyprus requests Frontex support as migrant flows rise

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Nicosia has called for more help from the EU after irregular migrant flows recorded an increase in March, while 19,000 asylum applications are still pending, said Interior Minister Nicos Nouris.

The minister held a meeting on Wednesday with the Regional Director of Frontex Grigoris Apostolou, whom he briefed on the migration challenges Cyprus faces.

He underlined that Cyprus ranks first for asylum applications in proportion to its population, compared to the other EU Member States.

Nouris argued there is a huge problem with immigration flows encouraged by Turkey through the occupied north of Cyprus.

There has been a rapid increase in arrivals recently, reaching 1,216 in March alone.

Nouris said that, despite speeding up the examination of asylum applications, the requests of almost 19,000 people are still pending.

So, he asked Frontex to strengthen the Returns Office to maximise its efficiency, a government statement said.

The regional director of Frontex said the organisation’s cooperation with the Republic of Cyprus was enhanced with progress achieved on asylum procedures.

Apostolou said that Frontex is willing to further support and finance migrant returns and will make an effort to provide Cyprus with special experts to address the increased needs the island faces.

It was agreed to arrange technical meetings between the competent bodies to speed up procedures for a more efficient migrant return system.

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, promotes, coordinates and develops EU border management.