Cyprus president calls on EU to take action to stem influx of Syrian refugees


The president of Cyprus said on Tuesday that he had personally asked the president European Union The executive agency interceded with Lebanese authorities so they could prevent Syrian refugees from traveling to the eastern Mediterranean island nation.

President Nicos Christodoulides told reporters that Lebanon was the beneficiary of significant EU financial aid for its own citizens and hundreds of thousands of people. syrian refugees It remains in escrow, but not without strings attached.

“When we have to solve this problem, we cannot provide aid,” Christodoulides said, adding that he had personally spoken to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “Given what we have seen in recent days, not only the Republic of Cyprus but also the EU itself faces serious problems.”

29 migrants rescued on boat off Greek coast

More than 350 migrants and asylum seekers, almost all Syrian nationals, arrived in Cyprus by boat in the past 48 hours, Cyprus government spokesman Constantinos Letymbiotis said. More migrants are believed to be on their way.

Cyprus President Nicos Christodoulides delivers a speech at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, September 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Last month, some 450 Syrian migrants were spotted on six boats in a 24-hour period off the southeastern coast of Cyprus. All six ships have left Lebanon.

The EU is willing to provide Lebanon with more funds to cope with the large number of refugees it is hosting, but “in order to achieve this, Lebanon should not allow migrants to leave and come to Cyprus,” Christodoulides said.

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The president of Cyprus says the recent influx of Syrian migrants has plunged Cyprus back into “crisis mode”, although more migrants have managed to be deported and had their asylum applications rejected than have arrived in Cyprus in recent months.

Christodoulides chaired a special meeting of top police and government officials on Tuesday to try to figure out how to deal with the sudden influx of migrants.

He said his government could introduce additional temporary measures aimed at helping authorities deal with an influx that Cypriots may not “like”. He did not elaborate.

Meanwhile, Cyprus said a government proposal to repatriate Syrian refugees by designating specific areas of the country as safe zones was “making progress” among the island nation’s EU member states.

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Justice Minister Constantinos Ioannou said that as a war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza threatened to engulf Lebanon and other countries, middle East The EU has a responsibility to reach a collective decision on Syria.



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By Ali Raza

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