Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The EU agreed on Monday to help Cyprus deal with its high influx of migrants, which is the highest per capita in the bloc.
Accordingly, it will be easier for Cyprus to deport failed asylum applicants, while the EU has also undertaken to help the island nation to develop its reception facilities, France24 reported on Monday.
Green Line that divides the island into the Greek Cypriot south and the Turkish Cypriot north, and notes that most arrivals come from sub-Saharan Africa and Syria.
Republic of Cyprus Interior Minister, Nicos Nouris, and European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, signed the memorandum of understanding.
“Today is a milestone for the Republic of Cyprus and efforts made by the government to manage a problem that has plagued our country”, Nouris said.
According to Johansson, the agreement should help Cyprus speed up the processing of its asylum applications and “establish effective integration and improve the efficiency of returns.”
Highest ratio in EU
Cyprus noted that asylum seekers and protection beneficiaries accounted for roughly 4.6% of the population, and that this was the highest ratio in the EU.
The agreement opens doors to allow interventions in countries of origin, and allows the strengthening of management structures and reception in Cyprus, as well as facilitating repatriation.
Margaritis Schinas, European Commissioner for Promoting the European Way of Life, declared “we are turning the page together… in the management of a problem that has become very large, creating a disproportionate burden of management in Cyprus.”
Nouris cautioned about the difficulties the authorities face in dealing effectively with illegal migration. “Exploitation of the asylum system by persons who do not need international protection deprives the state of the ability to provide effective hospitality, care and support to those in real need”, he said.
The Cypriot authorities indicated that a large majority of the asylum seekers who had arrived illegally, were aided across the Green Line by smugglers.
“Cyprus needs practical European solidarity”, Nouris stated, adding that what he called “the instrumentalisation of immigration” needed to be “stopped”.
Most of the migrants and asylum seekers arriving in Cyprus last month originated from Syria, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Just last week, European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) director Fabrice Leggeri cited the “extraordinary challenge” that Cyprus is facing as the reason why the island was in need of “extraordinary support.”