YPAM: Asylum seekers make up about 10% of the population of Cyprus

About 10% of the population of Cyprus consists of asylum seekers, the highest percentage in the entire European Union.

54cc8cc1ec859baeb090eb106c0c1648 asylum seekers, Minister of Defense

The Republic of Cyprus is committed to contribute, to the extent of its capabilities, to the effort to ensure stability and peace in the region, the Minister of Defense, Vassilis Palmas, said today.

He said, at the same time, that approximately 10% of the population of Cyprus consists of asylum seekers, the highest percentage in the entire European Union.

In his greeting on Wednesday at the Search and Rescue Coordination Center (SRC) at the start of the second phase of the multinational exercise "Argonaut 2024", which is being held within the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus with the participation of 8 countries, the Minister of Defense expressed his pride of Cyprus for the planning and execution of this exercise.

The Minister of Defense, the Chief of the General Defense Forces, Lieutenant General George Tsitsikostas, and representatives from a total of 37 countries attended the morning exercise from the KSED.

The "Argonaut" exercise, he continued, "contributes significantly to our preparation and readiness to deal with crisis incidents and emergency situations, as well as our ability to actively support humanitarian operations or initiatives taking place in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region."

He added that recent events have amply demonstrated the importance of the Argonaut exercise with the evacuation and repatriation of more than 3500 citizens of 32 nationalities from Sudan and Israel via Cyprus in April and October 2023.

Lessons learned from real operations, he continued, "were used to improve the procedures described in the plans, while conducting exercises, such as Argonaut, allow us to evaluate in practice the modifications made to the plans and finalize the actions that must be implemented by all the services and agencies involved".

The Minister said that the "Argonaut" exercise is coordinated by KSED Larnaca with the participation of media and personnel from Egypt, France, Greece, the State of Israel, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.

"The participation of the specific countries proves and highlights the importance of the exercise as well as the will of the main actors in the region to contribute with all their strength to effective and efficient cooperation during humanitarian operations," he said.

Cyprus, he continued, "plays a key role in this, acting as a safe haven and as a coordination hub, providing infrastructure, facilities and services" and "the Republic of Cyprus is committed to contributing, to the extent of its capabilities, to the effort to ensure stability and peace in the region".

Proof of this commitment, Mr. Palmas said, is the "Amalthia" initiative, which was proposed to the international community to help alleviate the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza. "This maritime humanitarian corridor is now at an initial operational stage," he said, and expressed gratitude to all the states that support this initiative.

In his greeting, the Minister also referred to the "huge increase in the number of immigrants arriving in Cyprus by sailing from Lebanon to the south-eastern coasts of the island, with arrivals on a daily basis. The competent authorities of the Republic of Cyprus are trying to respond to this difficult and demanding situation, the system operates within its limits and sometimes exceeds the limits", he said.

Citing figures, Mr. Palmas said that "almost 10% of the population of Cyprus consists of asylum seekers, the highest percentage in the entire European Union".

He also stated that "humanitarian crises, in order to be dealt with effectively, require international cooperation and joint efforts", and noted that exercises like "Argonaut" "contribute to creating the necessary conditions to facilitate international efforts and formations that will respond and they will assist in the humanitarian operation in the area. The Republic of Cyprus is proud to be one of the pioneers of such initiatives," he added.

The Minister of Defense expressed his thanks to the foreign delegations for their presence at KSED to watch the exercise, as well as to all those who participated in its planning and conduct.

In a greeting, the Chief of the Greek Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Georgios Tsitsikostas, said that in the exercise "national services and other organizations are working and cooperating with our international partners for the safe and timely evacuation of citizens from conflict zones to a safe destination, the Republic of Cyprus." .

He added that as part of the exercise, the National Plan "Tevkros" will be examined which deals with search and rescue incidents within the Nicosia FIR, under the coordination of the KSED, and in which aeronautical means and personnel from the armed forces of the participating countries will participate . He added that "Cyprus, being at the center of a sensitive region, has a very important role to play, acting as a reliable interlocutor, a bridge and peace mediator between the region and all other national actors. The important role of Cyprus since the beginning of October, in facilitating and supporting the international effort to increase preparedness for the evacuation of the civilian population from the war zone in Gaza, as well as the creation of the Amalthia sea corridor for the provision of humanitarian aid to those in need, they are outstanding examples," he said.

He also stated that "the fragile geopolitical environment requires unified and cooperative action, which makes us more effective, allows us to face current challenges with confidence, while preparing us for what lies ahead."

He assured that "the Republic of Cyprus and the National Guard are willing and able to cooperate collectively with the forces of the countries (participating in the exercise) as well as with other government agencies to deal with any kind of crisis, including the provision of infrastructure, strategic facilities and our services to those in need".

At the same time, he expressed his gratitude "to all the men and women serving on ships and aircraft taking part in the various phases of the exercise, as well as to the observers and other participants", noting that their active participation reaffirms the excellent relations between of our nations and armed forces and underlines that cooperation is the best way to face today's shared challenges and threats."

After the greetings, commemorative gifts were given to the representatives of the countries participating in the "Argonaut 2024" exercise.

The exercise started on April 8 and will last until the 12th of the month. It is conducted in three phases, in the sea, air and land space of the Republic of Cyprus (FIR and EEZ) and it involves aeronautical means and personnel of foreign countries.

"Argonaut 2024" was designed under the General Coordination of the National Guard, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Rescue Research Coordination Center, as well as with the participation of a large number of government agencies. Aviation vehicles and personnel from foreign countries participate in the exercise.

It is noted that the scenario of the morning exercise provided for the rescue of passengers - civilians from a ship that was put in danger during the process of evacuating them from a war zone.

The scenario of the exercise that will take place in the afternoon provides for the rescue of people who were evacuated from a war zone, after the plane carrying them crashed in the maritime area of ​​Cyprus.

Source: KYPE