"Cyprus is flooded... more asylum applications than births"

MPs denounced the involvement of immigrants in organized crime

50275b1e8b2b3d4573831c5fd55e2357 5

As a "reservoir" with a limited capacity, which is currently beginning to overflow and flood the entire country, the Director General of the Ministry of the Interior, Kostas Constantinou, described the immigration situation, who attended the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee to study the demographic problem. At the same time, MPs denounced the involvement of immigrants in organized crime.

Characteristically, he likened the problem to a reservoir that has a certain capacity, just as Cyprus has a certain potential to integrate a new world, as he said. When you pass that limit, he said, the tank overflows. First, as he said, the people who are close to the "reservoir" feel it and it gradually floods the whole country. For this reason, as he said, the problem is now found even in the most expensive areas of the cities. He noted that the only way to manage the situation is to reduce the numbers.

He also said that the risk posed to immigration now also concerns the renewal of the population. He noted that last year in Cyprus there were 10.700 births when in the same period there were more than 13.000 asylum applications. At the same time he said that in the first half of 2022, there were 4250 births in Cyprus, when in the same period there were 12.000 arrivals. "This thing doesn't happen in any other country," he said.

The Asylum Service, he added, has broken all records for speeding up procedures but has so many more arrivals. As he said last year he examined 16.000 applications. However, it said that there are currently 31.315 applications pending at the asylum service and the administrative court for international protection. He also said that last year there were 13.000 negative responses and record returns, yet arrivals and new applications were many times more than returns.

As measures to deal with the phenomenon, he said that the inflows should be limited, the procedures should be accelerated and more return agreements should be made for those whose applications have been rejected.

It is estimated that of the 30.000 immigrants whose applications were rejected, 13.000 live in the Republic and must return to their homeland.

Returns to countries of origin were 2.300 for 2021 and 2.770 in the first half of 2022.

Mr. Constantinou said that applications spiked after September 2021 when migrant-wielding Turkey opened the sub-Saharan African route, leading them through the opposition line to the Republic of Cyprus, after coming from Istanbul and Tymbou. The situation he said has since escaped with about 100 people a day crossing the green line. He also said that those who cannot come by air, come by sea and end up in the Gulf of Morphou.

He stated that for the first half of 2022, refugee protection status was granted in 121 cases, proving that mainly economic migrants come to Cyprus.

The Deputy Minister of Welfare Anastasia Anthousi, who also attended the Committee, stated that the benefits from the public funds amount to 40 million euros per year, while the European Union only pays the expenses for infrastructure. The expenses for rent, as he said, reach 14,5 million euros per year.

He also mentioned that there are constant checks on the places of residence of immigrants and on the possibility of illegal work. If illegalities are detected, as he said, then benefits are immediately cut off.

Responding to complaints from MPs, Ms Anthousi said there had been information that migrants had other incomes besides benefits.

The President of the Committee, ELAM Member of Parliament Linos Papagiannis said that he has announced that he will give the police a list of cars, which demonstrate the involvement of asylum seekers in illegal activities, mainly regarding the sale of drugs, with large dimensions mainly in tourist areas such as Ayia Napa . There are, as he said, clear suspicions that they are coming from Turkey and carrying drugs with them.

He also mentioned that, according to data submitted to the Commission, the Republic of Cyprus paid more than half a billion of its own expenses in the last six years, while for this year until the end of the year, half a billion will be exceeded.

He also referred to the problem with the refusal of immigrants to undergo the relevant control to determine if they are really minors and to proceed with their deportation, while he said that daily workers leave the agricultural sector to apply for asylum, creating a huge problem for producers.

DISY Member of Parliament Prodromos Alabritis said that in relation to the population of Cyprus, the numbers are huge, which makes it difficult for the relevant ministries to deal with them. He added that the processing of applications and returns had been expedited, while the EU's help had been requested to set up a pre-departure centre. Obviously, he added, other measures must be taken to limit the phenomenon and Turkey must be held accountable.

DIKO Member of Parliament Zacharias Koulias said that the red line has been crossed in terms of security, health, demography and communicable diseases. He said that the Government should report to the EU the real culprits which are the Turkish state, the Turkish army and the Turkish airlines, instead of talking about traffickers. He also noted that in the last six years, the EU paid 200 million euros for immigration to Cyprus, when the Cypriot state spent half a billion euros, while it pays 38 million per year for Cypriot refugees.

DIPA - Cooperation Member of Parliament Alekos Tryfonidis referred to the measures taken by both the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Deputy Ministry of Social Welfare to better control the place of residence of immigrants, such as giving a prepaid card to informal immigrants for specific payments, while sending money abroad will be prohibited. He said that the party supports all efforts, since immigration is a huge problem and they stand by the need to take more measures to deal with "this problem that threatens the Republic of Cyprus, Cypriot Hellenism and our demographic entity". He also appealed to the owners of houses who rent them to immigrants to be careful where they rent them and not to put more people than allowed.

Source: KYPE