NICOSIA – Refugees and migrants crossing over from the Turkish-Cypriot occupied side of the island drove up arrivals 122 percent in the first seven months of 2022, said the European Union’s annual report on migrant and asylum.
“Irregular arrivals along the Eastern Mediterranean route doubled compared to 2021, mostly due to heightened migratory pressure in Cyprus, which currently accounts for roughly 60 per cent of arrivals along the route,” the report said, mostly Syrians, Nigerians and Turks.
The report said that in 2022 so far, irregular arrivals on the Eastern Mediterranean, Central Mediterranean, and Western Mediterranean/Atlantic routes had exceeded pre-pandemic figures, reported The Cyprus Mail.
There was also a rise in asylum applications as the Greek-Cypriot side is a member of the European Union which has closed its borders to refugees and migrants.
They’ve been coming mostly from Turkey, fleeing war, strife and economic hardship in their homelands and using the country as a jumping-off point to get to the EU, but not Cyprus as much until recent years.
“Currently, Cyprus has the highest number of asylum seekers per capita in the EU,” it said, adding that the Commission, with the EU agencies, has stepped up support to the island.
This support includes more than 160 experts deployed on the ground by the Commission, Frontex, Europol and the EU Asylum Agency combined, it said.
“Cyprus now ranks third among Member States for non-EU nationals returned by commercial flights with the support of Frontex, with the escort of forced returns helped by the deployment of return specialists in March,” the report added.
“The Commission has engaged in intense outreach, in particular towards Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot administration, to put an end to practices that facilitate such irregular arrivals,” also said the report.