According to a report from Swedish broadcaster SVT by reporter Christoffer Wendick, Cyprus is the easiest route for illegals to enter into the European Union. A flight from the Turkish mainland to the Turkish part of Cyprus, “is almost like a domestic flight,” Wendick explained.
Southern Cyprus, the Greek part of the island, is being inundated with arrivals form the Turkish-controlled northern part of the island.
Last month, the daily on the island, the Cyprus Mail reported that Cyprus could see as many as 100 000 arrivals in five years, with migrants representing 3,5 percent of the overall population.
“You understand what this means for a country like Cyprus,” Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides said. “We are currently experiencing the largest population displacements ever seen and according to the UN 250 million to 300 million people are migrating each year.”
Petrides called on other European Union member states to take in migrants from his country even though they are not eligible for asylum “Not many of them are refugees. These are economic immigrants who abuse or exploit this particularity.”
In June, the Cypriot government and Interior Minister Petrides had accused Turkey of trafficking migrants into the southern part of the island.
The minister blamed Northern Cypriot authorities, saying that they were facilitating criminal human trafficking rings, adding that the behaviour “cannot be tolerated on a European level”.
Last year, the government expressed concern about the EU’s future plans, where so-called control centres could be located to process the migrants disembarking on EU soil and Cyprus was included in a list of EU member states in an ongoing attempt to create a common migration policy within the bloc.
In 2017, Greece and Cyprus had the highest number of asylum seekers per million of the population in the EU with 5 295 and 5 235. In 2018, Cyprus topped the list in the first quarter with 1 551 applicants per million of the population.
Although immigrant arrivals mainly occur in Spain, Greece and Northern Europe, Cypriot authorities fell that their country has reached its maximum capacity considering its small population.
The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, affirmed that Syrians topped the list of nationalities who sought international protection in Cyprus between 2002 and 2017 with 5 274 people. They are followed by 1 964 Palestinians and 854 Iraqis.
Between 2011 and 2017, according to UNHCR data, Cyprus received 6 231 applications from Syrian nationals and granted refugee status to 140, while some 4 934 received subsidiary protection.