Cyprus has conducted its first joint operation with Germany to return Pakistani nationals illegally residing in the Republic with the contribution of FRONTEX, the Interior Ministry said.
It said the ministry and Cyprus Police participated in the joint operation, which repatriated a small number of Pakistani citizens. However, no specific number of returnees was given.
“The participation of Cyprus is deemed extremely important and creates prospects for further returns, as a result of the recent agreement Interior Minister Nicos Nouris, with his German counterpart and the contribution of the German Ambassador,” the ministry statement said Wednesday.
It said Cyprus has already agreed with some other European countries, such as France and Belgium, to conduct joint return operations, focusing on the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
The Eastern Mediterranean route saw arrivals of irregular migrants more than double in January-March, driven by detections of illegal crossings in Cyprus, which rose 302%, said EU border agency Frontex.
The first quarter of 2022 registered the highest level of irregular crossings into European Union since the migratory crisis in 2016, fuelled by a surge in Cyprus arrivals.
Irregular migration also increased in the Eastern Mediterranean, attributed to a significant increase in migrant arrivals to Cyprus during the first three months to March.
Preliminary calculations by Frontex show that more than 40,300 illegal crossings were detected between January and March, 57% higher than a year ago.
The government says 5% of Cyprus’ 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.
The continuing increased migrant flows are attributed 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.