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Cyprus suspends processing Syrian asylum applications amid spike in arrivals

April 15, 2024 at 9:14 pm

Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides gives a speech at the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) near Larnaca’s international airport on April 2, 2024.[Photo by ETIENNE TORBEY/AFP via Getty Images]

Cyprus has suspended the processing of Syrians’ asylum applications, in response to a drastic increase in irregular arrivals by boat this month.

Speaking to reporters, Cypriot President, Nikos Christodoulides, announced his government’s decision to suspend processing applications of Syrian refugees and asylum seekers arriving on the island, insisting that it “is an emergency measure, it’s a difficult decision to protect the interests of Cyprus”.

Since the start of April, over 1,000 people have reportedly arrived in Cyprus on boats from Lebanon, many of whom are Syrians fleeing the country due to both the severe economic crisis and Lebanese authorities’ increasing crackdown on Syrians and their forced deportation to Syria, where they face the high likelihood of arrest and torture by security services.

The number of arrivals of refugees to Cyprus this month, as well as recent months, have been a drastic increase from those in previous years, with the first three months of this year having seen over 2,000 arrivals by sea, compared to only 78 in the same period last year.

According to a Cypriot government spokesperson, President Christodoulides and the European Union’s Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, recently discussed the possibility of the bloc offering a reinforced package of economic aid to Lebanon in an effort to further tackle its financial crisis and accommodate refugees in its own territories.

They reportedly agreed to jointly visit Lebanon following a preparatory visit by Commission officials.

READ: Cyprus seeks EU help to stem surge of Syrian refugees from Lebanon