World / Social Issues

Cyprus receives 33 migrants, mostly Syrians

AFP-JIJI

Cyprus has received 33 mainly Syrian migrants who arrived by boat at the southern port of Larnaca after being escorted to shore, authorities said on Tuesday.

Police on the Mediterranean island said they had received information that a boat from the Middle East was heading toward the island.

Coast guard members on a patrol boat spotted a crowded eight-meter vessel within Cypriot waters.

The 33 migrants, all Syrian except for one Lebanese national, were being processed by police on Tuesday before being transferred to a reception center outside the capital Nicosia.

Police said the migrants, including 10 children and six woman, all appeared to be in good health.

Cyprus has warned Brussels it faces increased pressure from irregular migration, with the highest rate of refugee arrivals of any EU country relative to its population.

The popular holiday island lies just 100 km (62 miles) from Lebanon and 80 km from Turkey, both transit countries for people fleeing war-torn Syria.

Earlier this month Cyprus asked fellow EU member states to take in 5,000 of the migrants it hosts, to alleviate the “disproportionate pressures and severe challenges” it faces.

Syrian nationals account for over 26 per cent of irregular migrants to Cyprus from 2016 onwards.

According to government data, almost 15,000 applications for asylum in Cyprus are waiting to be processed.

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