Despite large migrant inflows and the pressures created in their asylum process, Cyprus heeded the EU’s call to assist and support the Ukraine people, said Interior Minister Nicos Nouris.
He told reporters there are around 15,000 Ukrainians in Cyprus, 5,000 were already resident on the island, and the rest arrived after Russia invaded Ukraine.
According to Nouris, a registration mechanism has been set up for Ukrainians who contact the Ministry of Interior.
A card is issued, giving Ukrainian nationals a 12-month right to residence, food, education, health care, and employment.
The government, he said, “immediately responded” to the crisis, but due to the relatively large number of refugees, Nouris hoped the EU’s support would be financial adequate to overcome the problem.
He added that the issue is humanitarian and has nothing to do with the illegal and irregular migration Cyprus is already facing.
Nouris said that at a time when Russian forces are pounding Ukraine, Cyprus remembers the nightmare of the Turkish atrocities on the island.
On illegal migration, he said Cyprus has the right to secure its demography and “cohesion of our entities”.
“There must be a diaspora of migratory flows to allow for the correct management, and those whose applications are rejected should return home.”
Asylum applications are rejected for those who are economic migrants.
He said that since January 1, 5,000 asylum applications have been filed, a number much higher than in 2021, with all irregular migrants arriving from the Turkish-occupied north.
Nouris said that 95% of the migrants enter through the buffer zone and are encouraged to do so by Turkey.
“With the actions, we have already announced, we will be able to limit this phenomenon.”