More than 1,100 refugees arrived in Cyprus since the beginning of the refugee crisis, Minister of the Interior Socrates Hasikos has said.
The Minister noted that all refugees arrived by boats from the Turkish shores and expressed his concern over this increasing trend, bearing in mind that to date there are around three million displaced Syrians in Turkey.
Speaking at a press conference for the presentation of the AWARE campaign, Hasikos said that Cyprus, being at the very eastern part of the EU, is called to play a substantive role in effectively addressing the immigration flows from the countries of the Middle East, where flows of refugees are attempting to find shelter elsewhere.
Hasikos condemned traffickers who only care about increasing their illegal income and spoke about the thousands of victims who lost their lives at sea.
The Minister said that the government is making every effort so that a great part of the economic burden is covered by European funds.
Noting that to date, Cyprus has used around 65 million euro from the EU to deal with migratory pressures, he said that for the new programming period the EU has increased the total amount to Cyprus by about 25%.
Referring to the AWARE campaign, which is supported by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the EU, he said that its aim is to inform the public on issues related to the applicants and beneficiaries of international protection, as well as issues related to migration, enhancing the feeling of acceptance of diversity.
He added that the campaign seeks to enhance mutual respect and solidarity, in order to better combat racist and xenophobic tendencies.
Meanwhile, speaking at the press conference, the representative of the High Commission for Refugees in Cyprus, Dantew Dessalegne, said that Cyprus is a relatively new host country for refugees.
He pointed out that since the 1980s Cyprus has received around 160,000 economic immigrants, according to Eurostat. This number, he said, represents 20% of the total population, and is the second highest in Europe after Luxembourg.
Within the last 12 years Cyprus offered international protection to 7,965 people, he concluded.
Source: Cyprus News Agency