International protection applications on the rise in Cyprus, says Asylum Service Head

Cyprus is no longer being used as a transit point, but is rather the end destination for migrants and refugees, Civil Registry and Migration Department Director and Head of the Asylum Service Makis Polydorou said on Friday.

Speaking during an event on the refugee and migrant crisis, at the EU House, in Nicosia, Polydorou noted that applications for international protection status to the Republic of Cyprus have soared in the last three years and according to Department data, they went up by 30% in 2016, compared to the year before.

The same upward trend continues in 2017, Polydorou added, and said that since January 2017 there were almost 1,500 applications concerning 1,740 people.

Polydorou said that the majority of applicants arrives in the Republic through the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island. At the same time, he added, Turkey does not implement vis-A�-vis Cyprus the 2016 agreement it signed with the EU to curb migrant flows.

We constantly ask for these provisions to be implemented, said Polydorou and noted that countries where refugees easily resort, should be supported by the EU.

Speaking at the same event, S&D MEP Demetris Papadakis said that Europe has done a lot to tackle the problem, it could however fare better. He also said that it is wrong to think that the EU should shoulder all the burden, pointing to the responsibilities of some member states that don’t comply with the agreements.

The Dublin III Regulation for examining applications is dead, the Cypriot MEP said, adding that the discussion has already started about what needs to change. It is finally understood that it is impossible to deal with the problem the way we did so far, he went on.

The S&D MEP said finally that Cyprus is capable of accommodating more people, through legal ways, in order to put an end to trafficking.

Giorgos Markopouliotis, the Head of the European Commission Representation in Cyprus said on his part that a wholesome migration and asylum policy is necessary, in order to tackle the problem, on the basis of solidarity, mutual trust and burden-sharing among member states.

He referred to efforts to create a relocation and resettlement scheme, which aims to accommodate almost 100 thousand people in Greece and Italy and 22 thousand currently residing in third countries, such as Turkey.

These are the commitments agreed upon and undertaken by the 28 leaders of the EU member states Markopouliotis said. Unfortunately, there are countries that don’t meet their obligations and the Commission was forced just a few days ago to undertake legal action against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland he added.

In the long term, the Head of the Commission Representation highlighted the need for a coherent implementation of the Common European Asylum System and reminded that the EU is the worlds biggest development aid donor.

The event was organized by the European Parliament Information Office in Cyprus and the European Commission Representation in Cyprus, on the occasion of the World Refugee Day.

Source: Cyprus News Agency