Establishment of a working group on immigration - Increasing trend in Syrians

Recently, changes have been observed in the way traffickers operate

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The Ministry of the Interior announces that changes have recently been observed in the way traffickers operate, shifting the balance of migrant arrivals through the sea route, while in terms of the composition of migrants, it appears that there is an increasing trend in Syrian nationals.

The authorities of the Republic of Cyprus are making efforts, both at the political and diplomatic, as well as at the technocratic and operational level, to manage the increasing phenomenon of immigrants, mainly from Syria, but also the rings that seem to be operating in the region.

Specifically, at a technocratic level, the issue is being monitored by a working group, which has already been set up based on the directives of the Minister of the Interior, Mr. Konstantinos Ioannou, consisting of competent officers from the Asylum Service, the Department of Population and Immigration Records, the Aliens and Immigration Service , as well as the Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance. The terms of reference of the group are to examine the possibility of a review of the policy concerning Syrian nationals, with the aim of properly managing those already in the Republic of Cyprus, as well as preventing further flows from Syria.

At the operational level, measures are taken to identify the traffickers of the specific migrants and actions are taken to exchange information between the competent European services and European organizations, such as EUROPOL.

It is further stated that applicants for international protection, who have arrived in the Republic of Cyprus from 1/01/2023 onwards, will not be included in the lists of eligible candidates for the voluntary relocation program. The aim of this policy is that the relocation program should not be a factor of attraction for nationals of specific third countries, who, possibly by abusing the program, use Cyprus as a transit station to other European member states.

Despite the increases in sea flows, it is noted that asylum applications remain significantly lower than last year, as a result of coordinated actions and measures taken recently. The measures have clearly helped reduce asylum applications from migrants from sub-Saharan African countries, with circuits now shifting to other nationalities, such as Syrians. For example, asylum applications for June 2023 are at 735, while June 2022 applications were 2.401. It is reported that in July 2022 the asylum applications were 1.770, while until the middle of July 2023 the asylum applications remain at lower levels again (around 550 people).