Cyprus will hit mobile phones with multi-lingual text messages that the country is not a path for migrants to get into the European Union after reaching the island where they are in limbo.
Interior Minister Nicos Nouris told the Associated Press the campaign is designed to
counter “disinformation” propagated by human traffickers that securing asylum status in Cyprus will grant would-be migrants a “passport” to other EU countries.
Nouris said arriving migrants are effectively “trapped” in Cyprus because the island is not part of the Schengen area – the 26 European nations that have abolished their borders and permit unrestricted travel between them.
He added that said Cyprus, with a population of roughly 880,000, has “by a wide margin” the largest number of migrants relative to its population in the 27-member bloc, said The Cyprus Mail.
He said 3.8 percent of those living in Cyprus are asylum seekers, while that number is under one percent in other front-line EU states like Greece, Italy, Spain and Malta, with estimates 25-30 percent of all migrants in Cyprus are refugees fleeing conflict.
The capital Nicosia is awash with migrants who live and congregate in the downtown area near the border crossing with the Turkish-Cypriot side that has occupied the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion.