Cyprus helps 36 Syria migrants to come ashore as influx grows

File photo. Syrian refuges who were rescued off the coast of Cyprus arrive at a designated accommodation area in the village of Kokkinotrimithia, near Nicosia, Cyprus, 26 September 2014. [Katia Christodoulou/EPA]

Cypriot marine police said they escorted 36 Syrian migrants ashore on Monday (3 September), at a time the authorities have raised concerns about an influx of boat people on the island.

The group’s vessel was detected off the southeast coast of Cyprus before a police patrol boat intercepted and brought them back to a small harbour in the resort of Protaras.

On board the boat were 11 men, 11 women and 14 children, and they were received by emergency crews offering food and health checks, the police said.

The migrants were expected to be taken to a reception centre outside the capital Nicosia.

It was not immediately clear where they had sailed from.

The Cypriot government has raised the alarm over the number of migrants reaching it shores recently, with more than a 130 coming in the past three days alone in seven different instances.

“As an EU member-state, Cyprus respects its obligations, but on the other hand Cyprus has reached its limits with regard the number of migrants it can absorb,” Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides said at the weekend, quoted by the Cyprus News Agency.

Petrides also told state radio on Monday that Cyprus was on the “front line” with asylum applications exceeding that of Greece.

A special ministerial meeting is to convene on Tuesday in Nicosia to discuss the latest wave of migrants landing on the island’s shores.

Cyprus is hosting around 10,000 migrants while about 4,000 asylum applications are pending assessment.

Most of the applicants are Syrian with a 40% increase in claims witnessed in the first five months of the year.

In the past 12 months there has been a steady trickle of Syrian migrants arriving in Cyprus from Turkey.

Cyprus, a European Union member state located 160 kilometres (100 miles) from Syria’s Mediterranean coast, has not seen the massive inflow of migrants experienced by Turkey and Greece.

It has urged the EU to act as it receives more and more asylum seekers.

EU data puts Cyprus fourth among the bloc’s 28 nations according to the number of asylum applications per capita.

The UN refugee agency has estimated that around 2,000 migrants came to Cyprus in 40 boat trips since 2015.

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