As Syrian refugees arrive in Cyprus in ever-increasing numbers, the Cypriot government has decided to suspend the processing of Syrian asylum applications according to Arab News and agencies on April 14.

The suspension comes as 2,140 refugees – mostly Syrian nationals – have arrived in the country so far this year alone.

This is a drastic increase from the same period last year, when only 78 refugees arrived, signifying an increase of 27 times.

The Cypriot government is also trying to get the EU to designate some areas of Syria as safe zones, a move that would facilitate the forced repatriation of refugees.

In early April, Cyprus’ President, Nicos Christodoulides, visited Lebanon to urge authorities to monitor the coastline and prevent refugees’ boat departures.

“I fully understand the challenges Lebanon is facing but exporting migrants to Cyprus should not be the answer and cannot be accepted”, President Christodoulides said.

Cyprus’ tightening of asylum processing follows the EU’s new Migration and Asylum Pact introduced on April 10.

The bill is set to toughen asylum regulations further, prompting charities to raise concerns, saying it represents “troubling cracks deep within Europe’s approach to asylum and migration” in its failure “to offer sustainable solutions for people seeking safety at Europe’s borders”.

READ: MEPs back tougher migration and asylum laws

Meanwhile, President Christodoulides alongside Lebanon’s prime minister Najib Mikati called on the EU to grant “substantial” financial support to Lebanon.

Christodoulides also said he had personally asked EU Commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen, to put pressure on Lebanese authorities.

These comments echo Interior Minister of Cyprus, Constantinos Ioannou, who complained on March 22 of the “asphyxiating pressure” of Syrian refugees on the island.

The EU recently indicated it would provide financial support to Lebanon.

EU Commissioner Margaritis Schinas said, “We had worked with Egypt for quite some time, but I consider that it’s absolutely realistic to move in a corresponding manner with Lebanon.”

READ: After EU-Egypt deal EU chief sets eyes on Lebanon

This comes amidst the EU’s broader strategy of forming what it calls “strategic partnerships” with countries to stem migration, particularly North African countries including Libya and Tunisia.

A deal between the EU and Egypt was also confirmed on March 17, where Egypt agreed to monitor migration as part of a whopping €7.4 billion funding package.

Tunisia was also allocated a €165 million EU grant for migration management – just several days later.

It remains to be seen how effective the EU’s strategy will be, or the human implications for the refugees , as they face increasingly poor treatment at the hands of EU-funded authorities.


Arab News / Agencies


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