Cyprus has transferred 48 asylum seekers to Germany under a voluntary pilot scheme that will eventually see 500 relocated to help authorities cope with a surge in irregular migrants, officials said.
The Interior Ministry said Monday the 48 applicants for international protection were relocated from Cyprus to Germany through a European Union solidarity mechanism of voluntary relocation.
“This is the first of a series of transfers that will take place in the coming months in cooperation with the European Asylum Service, the European Commission, the International Organisation for Migration and the German authorities,” a ministry statement said.
It said Brussels worked closely with member countries to ease the burden of irregular migration, especially among those considered ‘frontline states’.
“Germany has accepted the relocation of 500 applicants,” said the ministry.
“It contributes to addressing the migration challenges faced by the Mediterranean countries, especially Cyprus, which is the first per capita, to receive international protection applications in the bloc,” it added.
The relocations are funded by the EU and the United Nations agency IOM.
Nicosia claims that asylum-seekers comprise an EU high of 6% of the island’s 915,000 population in the Republic – a record figure across the bloc.
This year, over 7,000 migrants who had their asylum applications rejected have either been deported or voluntarily repatriated.
Until October, 18,345 have applied for asylum, from 13,325 for the whole of 2021.
More than 1500 asylum applications are received every month.
Cyprus has criticised Brussels for not doing enough to share the burden of illegal migration across the union.