Cyprus struggling with migrant flows

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Cyprus struggles to cope with high numbers of asylum seekers, as in the first 18 days of January, over 700 migrants have filed applications for international protection.

According to data cited by Phileleftheros daily, the island’s authorities have a backlog of some 19,000 applications while receiving 13,500 just in the past year.

According to the paper, authorities in 2021 processed a record 16,549 cases due to Cyprus speeding up procedures.

Estimates say the backlog will need more than two years to clear.

Cyprus has battled to play catch up with migrant flows as it is first in the EU with the highest percentage of asylum seekers per population.

A source close to the Interior Ministry said reception and hospitality structures could not accommodate more refugees.

The source said several migrants are lining up outside the reception centre in Pournara, Nicosia, waiting to be admitted to the facility.

At the same time, there are over 600 migrants at the newest reception centre at Limnes in Menoyia.

The government plans to construct the first pre-departure centre at Limnes at the cost of over €35 mln.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court last week gave the green light to Interior Minister Nicos Nouris to proceed with the plans to create an International Court of Protection in ​​Limnes.

The idea is to have any appeals submitted by migrants after the rejection of their initial asylum application to be examined on the spot, to speed up their repatriation procedures.

Nicosia argues that most migrants originate from Turkey, which fails to implement send back agreements.

It argues Turkey’s stance has led to the creation, rather than prevention, of a new migration route in the eastern Mediterranean, which disproportionally burdens Cyprus and places enormous strain on its asylum system.

Cyprus has also called for more EU help as it has become a “frontline” state tackling irregular migration.

Migration flows

Nouris will have a series of bilateral meetings in Vilnius on Thursday to brief European counterparts and EU officials about migration flows to Cyprus.

He will brief ministers and officials who will participate in the January 20-21 European Conference on managing external borders.

On Friday, following a visit at the borders of Lithuania and Belarus, he will have separate meetings with the Czech Interior Minister, Vít Rakušan, the Greek Minister of Migration, Notis Mitarakis, the Dutch Interior Minister, Van der Burg, and his Austrian counterpart, Gerhard Karner.

Nouris will also meet with the EU Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, and the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs, Monique Pariat, to discuss Cyprus’ request to finance the two centres for immigrants at Limnes.