Cyprus progress in stemming illegal migrants

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Interior Minister Nicos Nouris told MPs that Cyprus had prevented illegal immigrants from arriving by boat while clamping down on sham marriages.

Nouris, who briefed the House Interior  Committee, said Cyprus ranks first in the EU for migrant inflows but has managed to stop illegal migrants from coming under the guise of studying and performing fraudulent marriages to stay.

Through these avenues, 2,000 to 2,500 migrants would arrive on the island every year, he added.

He also said that the inflow of illegal immigrants arriving by sea had been curbed following a ‘send back’ agreement signed with Lebanon.

Nouris said migrants are still crossing illegally from the Turkish occupied north across the Green Line, although more checks and patrols are being conducted.

In the first six months of 2021, Cyprus rejected 7,000 asylum applications.

Still, another 5,5000 asylum seekers have arrived on the island but returning them to the country of origin is difficult as Cyprus has no send back agreements with those third countries.

Mainly, Turkey, which doesn’t recognise the Cyprus Republic, and sending migrants back to Syria is problematic due to the continued conflict in that country, said Nouris.

He said Cyprus is looking for the assistance of Frontex on this matter.