Cyprus will hire more police, CCTV to monitor buffer zone

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Cyprus will install an electronic surveillance system along the buffer zone and hire 300 special police officers to stem an increase in migrant flows from the breakaway north.

President Nicos Anastasiades convened an emergency meeting on migration on Tuesday with the participation of the Interior, Foreign, Justice, Defence Ministers, and the chief of police and commander of the National Guard.

According to government spokesperson Marios Pelekanos, they looked at physical obstacles to prevent migrant crossings from the Turkish occupied north, such as the barbed wire fence west of Nicosia.

Officials also reviewed progress on the installation of an electronic surveillance system along the buffer zone and setting up a unit to monitor movements of migrant flows in the buffer zone.

Authorities will start installing a €27 mln surveillance system bought from Israel by the end of August while hiring 300 special officers.

Phileleftheros daily said the special constables would be hired on a one plus one contract, with their number readjusted yearly according to needs.

Special constables will be trained for one month before being deployed to stations along the buffer zone.

They will be tasked with intervening at points where migrants are spotted crossing over to the Republic.

Pelekanos said Cyprus is “duty-bound” to find solutions in coordination with the EU, even as the island has received thousands of Ukrainians fleeing invading Russian forces in their homeland.

The EU has granted automatic temporary protection to refugees from Ukraine who arrive through legal corridors.

He said that 5% of Cyprus’ current population are asylum-seekers – five times the EU average – while the country has the highest number of asylum applications per capita in the 27-country bloc.

Pelekanos attributed the continuing increased migrant flows to Turkey’s attempts to instrumentalise migration, aiming to demographically alter the areas under the control of the Republic of Cyprus.

In the first three months of the year, 4,900 (95%) out of 5,066 asylum seekers arrived through the buffer zone.