Cyprus claims Turkey exploiting migrant crisis

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Nicosia urges Brussels to intervene in dealing with migration flows from Turkey, citing evidence that Ankara is instrumentalising migrants against the Republic trying to welcome Ukrainian refugees.

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris on Monday meets his EU counterparts to discuss increased migration flows from Turkey and Cyprus’ request for financial aid to upgrade its refugee reception facilities.

The EU Interior Minister Council will be discussing the Russian invasion of Ukraine and each member state’s capacity to host Ukrainian refugees.

Nouris said that some 10,000 refugees from Ukraine have arrived in Cyprus seeking refuge following Russia’s invasion on 24 February, noting that some 180-200 arrivals are recorded daily.

Nouris reiterated that Nicosia has proof that Turkey is instrumentalising migrants by sending them to Cyprus through the buffer zone from the occupied north of the island.

“We have sent a letter supported by concrete evidence.

“The data concerns 317 travel documents of migrants, which clearly depict the route and the instrumentalisation of these people by Turkey,” said Nouris.

The minister said that many of these cases concern people from Sub-Saharan Africa, with documents that prove that they arrived at Ercan (Tymbou) airport in the north and then were given a 60-day visa.

As he argued, they are then urged to make a move to cross to the areas controlled by the Republic.

Nouris said Cyprus’ migration problem was not merely a financial one but should be “tackled drastically.”

He said 100 migrants cross to the south every night through the buffer zone.

The minister said that some 5,000 arrivals were recorded in the first three months so far this year.

Nouris said that he discussed the issue with the EU Commission hierarchy.

“I will meet with EU officials to discuss this issue and Cyprus’ additional request for a €20 mln funding to upgrade the Pournara centre to cope with the huge burden we are facing today.”

The Pournara reception facility has far exceeded its 800 capacity, with Nouris noting there are currently some 3,000 refugees at the camp.

“It is absolutely impossible to host such numbers with the infrastructure we have today.”