Cyprus, Bangladesh deal on migrant returns

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Interior Minister Nicos Nouris and Bangladeshi counterpart Asaduzzaman Khan have secured an agreement on migrant returns.

During their meeting in New Delhi, the two ministers discussed ways of bilateral cooperation on migration and the return of Bangladeshi nationals who are on the island illegally.

They agreed to speed up these returns and eradicate any bureaucratic procedures and difficulties.

The Pournara reception centre for asylum-seekers is the largest refugee camp in Cyprus.

It is designed to accommodate about 1,000 people, but more than double the number are housed there, including some 200 Bangladeshis.

According to the government, about 90% of migrants enter via Turkey and the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north through a loosely regulated student visa system.

Thousands of people then cross the UN buffer zone to seek asylum in the Republic.

Bangladesh ranks among the top 10 countries whose citizens have sought asylum in Cyprus.

Last year, over 600 Bangladeshis applied for asylum, and so far this year, over 800 applications have been filed.

Almost all of these applications get rejected as Bangladesh is considered a safe country of origin, meaning that people from there are not eligible for international protection.

Cyprus says it is on the frontline of the bloc’s irregular migration flows with the highest number of asylum applicants per population.

The government claims asylum-seekers comprise an EU high of 5% of the island’s 915,000 people in the Republic – a record figure across the EU.

This year, 4,019 migrants who had their asylum applications rejected have either been deported or voluntarily repatriated.

Until July, 13,818 have applied for asylum from 13,325 in the whole of 2021.

More than 1500 asylum applications are received every month.