Cyprus police have arrested four people onboard a boat carrying a total of 61 Syrian migrants on suspicion of people trafficking after a police patrol boat spotted them off Cape Greco, Paralimni.
The four men arrested face numerous charges, including helping third-country citizens to illegally enter Cyprus for financial gain and transporting people on unsafe craft.
A police officer told the Financial Mirror on Monday that a boat carrying 61 migrants was spotted off the coasts of Cape Greco, including 11 children and eight women.
Marine Police escorted the boat to the Ayia Triada fishing shelter in Protaras, where they were handed to the asylum department.
Police said their registration process was underway before being transferred to the Pournara reception Center in Nicosia.
Last week, authorities arrested another five Syrians on suspicion of people trafficking after a police patrol boat plucked them and 32 of their compatriots from the sea when their rickety boats sank close to the island’s southeastern tip.
According to police statistics, 50 people have been arrested in Cyprus on people trafficking charges in 30 separate cases in the first seven months, equalling the tally for 2021.
Migrant arrivals to Cyprus from Syria and elsewhere to seek asylum continue in large numbers, mostly through the divided island’s Turkish-occupied north.
This year, four people have been sentenced to between three and 10 months in prison for assisting in the illegal entry of others.
Meanwhile, the number of asylum-seekers in the first half of this year was 12,000 — equal to the number for all of last year.
The government said asylum-seekers comprise an EU high of 5% of the island’s 915,000 people in the Republic.
So far this year, 4,019 migrants who had their asylum applications rejected have either been deported or voluntarily repatriated.