New Deputy Ministry for Migration

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The government is preparing for the creation of a Deputy Ministry of Migration and Asylum to curb increased flows of irregular migrants effectively, said Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou.

Quoted by CyBC TV, Ioannou said that his ministry is working on the relevant legislation, which it hopes to be able to table before the House by the end of May.

As CyBC reported, the deputy ministry, which is taking over from the migration and asylum department, will be tasked with coordinating services involved in a bid to handle irregular migration flows better.

According to the minister, the legislation carves out four policy axes within which the new Deputy Ministry will operate.

They concern the reduction of migrant arrivals, the faster process of examining asylum applications, the creation of more appropriate reception infrastructures and the simplification of send-back procedures to increase returns.

According to ministry data, some 3,000 migrants applied for political protection in the first three months of the year.

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.

Last year, over 7,600 migrants who had their asylum applications rejected have either been deported or voluntarily repatriated.

Cyprus is focussing on implementing the action plan drawn up by the European Council to curb migrant flows in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“The most important thing for Cyprus is to reduce migrant arrivals to the island,” Ioannou said.

Nicosia blames Turkey for enabling illegal migration via the breakaway north.

Former Interior Minister Nicos Nouris claimed that in the last five years, Cyprus had become the EU state with the largest number of asylum seekers.

During that time, 63,303 applications were submitted, and those receiving protection status constituted 6% of the population of the Republic, according to Nouris.

Establishing a deputy ministry for migration was an election pledge given by President Nikos Christodoulides.