33 Syrian boat migrants arrive in 24 hours

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Migrant arrivals by sea have been on the rise in recent months, as another boat from Syria, the second in 24 hours, arrived on the island carrying 16 people.

Thursday’s arrival adds to the 17 Syrian refugees arriving in the early hours of the same day – making it a total of 33.

The latest arrivals have pushed the number of irregular migrants arriving by sea since 9 May to 452, all from Syria travelling on 19 small boats.

Cypriot authorities on Thursday said they had spotted a boat carrying 16 Syrian migrants off the island’s southern coast at Cape Greco, Ayia Napa. They brought it safely to shore at around 7.30 pm.

After police intercepted the boat, it picked up 10 men, two women and four children and brought them to the Golden Coast fishing shelter in Paralimni.

They told police their fibreglass seven-metre boat had started its journey from Tartus, Syria.

Police said the migrants were in good health, and 15 were transferred to the Pournara migrant reception centre on the outskirts of the capital Nicosia.

A man, 19, reportedly piloting the small boat, was arrested on suspicion of people smuggling and scheduled to appear in a Famagusta court on Friday.

He was set to appear before a court to be remanded in custody along with the two people piloting the boat arriving in the early hours of Thursday.

The suspects were arrested on charges of illegally entering the Republic of Cyprus, assisting the illegal entry of persons from a third country for profit.

The incident underscores an upward trend in arrivals of irregular migrants from Syria via the sea.

An Interior Ministry report reveals that from 9 May, 19 boats carrying 452 migrants from Syria reached Cyprus.

Authorities say there has been a rise in migrants arriving by boat, with a 60% increase recorded in the first five months compared to last year.

According to the Aliens and Immigration Unit, most irregular migrants arriving by sea come on boats from Tartus, Syria and are usually located off Cape Greco.

Police told the Financial Mirror that 4,779 migrants have arrived on territory under the control of the Republic of Cyprus in the first six months.

In 2022, a total of 17,434 irregular migrants had arrived, of which 807 came via sea on 41 boats.