Interior Affairs Minister Constantinos Petrides said on Friday that the immigration situation in Cyprus has become “extremely difficult”, urging a proper dealing with that.
He said that hundreds of irregular immigrants are pouring into the areas controlled by the government of Cyprus from the part of the island controlled by Turkish Cypriots.
Petrides told the Cyprus News Agency that some help comes from the European Union (EU), but the reception center where the migrants are registered is overflowing and there is a problem with their accommodation.
He said that 3,060 migrants have crossed from the Turkish Cypriot side so far this year and asked for political asylum. Since most of them come from war-torn Syria, asylum is usually granted. However, the 1 million population island finds it hard to house the migrants and provide them jobs.
According to the minister, the number of 3,060 so far this year has exceeded 2,625 registered in the whole of 2018.
“Most of them are men and they come in large groups, so it is definitely organized. There are groups from several different countries, so we are definitely talking about networks,” Petrides added.
He also noted the change in nationalities of the migrants, saying new nationalities have occurred recently in addition to most of them Syrian.
They come from African countries such as Cameroon and Nigeria, reportedly arriving by air at Tymbou airport,” he said.
Tymbou is an old WWII airport, which had been transformed into a civilian facility. The airport receives planes that come from Turkey only, as international aviation authorities ban regular airlines from flying directly to the occupied part of Cyprus.
Most flights are by Turkish Airlines, but some small third country airlines from third countries fly to Tymbou after making a landing either in Ankara or Istanbul.