Cyprus: New action plan to address growing migrant flows

Cyprus: New action plan to address growing migrant flows

At its last meeting, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cyprus adopted an action plan designed to comprehensively address the increasing migration flows in Cyprus.

The dramatic increase in illegal immigration in Cyprus and the increase in the number of asylum applications especially in recent months, with the number now exceeding 33,000 and reaching 3.8% of the total population, highlight the effective management of the migration issue as a matter of prime importance for the Republic of Cyprus, according to a statement.

The Action Plan provides the following:

– Shortening the time for examining asylum applications by over-doubling the number of asylum requests examiners to 69 next month.

– Speeding up procedures and reducing deadlines for the right to appeal to the Court.

– Developing a list of safe countries to distinguish clearly unfounded applications.

– An application concerning a country of origin included in the National List of Safe Countries will be declared to be manifestly unfounded and will be examined via a speedy procedure within a maximum of ten days.

– Promoting the simultaneous issuance of an expulsion order for the manifestly unfounded applications that are rightfully rejected, with the applicant having the right to appeal to the Court.

– Regulation of the phenomenon of virtual marriages with amending legislation prepared and forwarded to the House.

– From the next academic year of September 2020, strict criteria for the enrollment of third-country nationals in private colleges are introduced in order to put an end to the phenomenon of virtual students, while severe penalties will be imposed otherwise.

– Benefits and housing policies for asylum seekers will undergo changes.

– The leasing of various state-owned facilities, such as housing and/or hotel units for the settlement of asylum seekers will be terminated, as they will be offered accommodation in organized reception areas.

– Cooperation with the competent European Agency FRONTEX to carry out return operations is instituted, while a request is immediately filed for patrolling the maritime external borders of the Republic of Cyprus, especially in the northern part of the island, between our occupied coastline and Turkey.

– Enhanced controls on combating illegal labor and exploitation of migrants.

– In co-operation with the Local Authorities, an investigation will be launched into the illegal settlement of immigrants in inappropriate premises through the simultaneous prosecution of the owners who exploit them and reap the state housing allowances that applicants receive.

– Creation of a new Closed Hosting Center with a capacity of approximately 600 people, that will host the applicants until the completion of their cases.

– Reopening all the wings of the Menogeia detention center.

– The study for the creation of a single return agency is decided.

– The immediate forwarding of a request to the European Commission for financial support for the period 2020-2021, to enable the creation of appropriate infrastructures to accommodate and receive the increased number of migrants; to cover the required operating and administrative costs, as well as to provide equipment for the patrol of the coastline and the median line.

According to the communication, the list of measures is not considered exhaustive. The Government welcomes the response of the parliamentary parties and their submission of recommendations which have been taken into account in drawing up the above-mentioned list.

We would like to reiterate that Cyprus declares its readiness to support refugees, those whose lives are at risk, unprotected children and those from war zones, the statement continues.

The statement concludes by noting that “at the same time, however, we also want to convey the clear message that the country’s endurance limits have been exceeded, and we are now living in conditions of demographic change. The measures announced are aimed solely at preserving the country’s image, security and prosperity”. /ibna