NICOSIA (AP) — The European Union’s new, upgraded border police could in the future be dispatched to Cyprus to help stem the flow of migrants that are putting a strain on the tiny east Mediterranean island, the bloc’s top migration official said Tuesday.
EU Commissioner for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos said that a team of EU officials will arrive in Cyprus within a few days to determine what kind of help the country needs to cope with increased migrant inflows.
“Cyprus is not alone. Europe is at its side,” Avramopoulos said after a joint meeting with Cyprus’ ministers of the interior, foreign affairs and justice. “Cyprus is on Europe’s borders and on the front line of the migrant and refugee crisis.”
The EU official said the 28-member bloc will offer technical, material and financial aid to Cyprus that’s “at the core of an axis of instability that stretches from Tunisia all the way to the Ukraine.”
He said sending new border police was an option if Cyprus requested it.
Avramopoulos said the new border police will be “more advanced and upgraded” from the current body, Frontex, in terms of its mandate and means including aircraft and ships. He said it wouldn’t compromise any EU member’s sovereignty.
He said it’s estimated the force will comprise 10,000 permanent staff within a few years.
Cyprus’ Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides said a “worrying, steady increase” in migrant flows in the east Mediterranean has put Cyprus, along with Greece, at the top of EU countries with the most asylum applications relative to their population.
With a population of just over a million people, Petrides said it’s “impossible” for Cyprus to absorb such large numbers of migrants.
By MENELAOS HADJICOSTIS , Associated Press