Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou requests financial assistance from the EU to third countries to become a barrier to migratory flows and prevent them from coming to frontline countries.

In his letter sent last week, Mr. Ioannou cites as an example what is being done with Turkey to expand to countries neighbouring Europe, to which Syrian refugees initially resort as a safe destination. In the letter, the Minister proposes that the EU give financial support for the creation of structures and infrastructure in these third countries that are considered safe for migrants in case they seek protection. As you know, over the past decade, European member states in the Eastern Mediterranean have faced disproportionate migratory flows as a result of political developments in the Arab region and mainly due to the ongoing situation in Syria. The aforementioned political instability has created a large number of inflows to both frontline member states and Syria’s neighbouring countries, such as Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, which must rise to the challenge of hosting people fleeing Syrian territory.

These countries have been hosting millions of refugees for the past 12 years, which has undoubtedly created major internal economic and political problems. It is a common understanding that any political setback in any of these countries can contribute to a domino effect and spillover, forcing the Syrian population to move from the troubled country to other regional or European countries.

As a Union, we have often agreed that empowering the countries of the region and equipping them with the necessary tools to better manage the pressure caused by the migrant population currently residing on their territory will be beneficial to all. Ensuring that these countries withstand the political and economic storm caused by the refugee issue is crucial, first of all for the refugee population itself, but also for maintaining the current balance in the region and in the EU in general.»

This was acknowledged in the case of Turkey, leading to the 2016 EU-Turkey statement to provide adequate assistance to support its hosting capabilities. «Recognizing the unfavorable balance of this situation, the Republic of Cyprus strongly suggests, as in the case of Turkey, to negotiate and sign a similar agreement with the other aforementioned countries.

Specifically, during my last visit to Lebanon in July, I was informed that the country of 5 million people, hosting around 2 million Syrian refugees, is trying to provide the necessary support. Taking into account Lebanon’s political specificity over the past two years, but also the economic situation the country is experiencing, we believe that it should be considered as a priority country in terms of the external dimension of migration and the support provided to neighbouring countries,» he concludes.

In the meantime, the works for the installation of a second reinforcing fencing at the «Pournara» First Reception Center to restrict the movement of migrants outside the Center have been completed until the completion of the necessary procedures. This fence at the Kokkinotrimithia KEPY, according to the Ministry of Interior, has been placed in order to limit the residents inside the Center, ensuring the control of their admissions and expenses, both for their own safety and for the safety and well-being of the residents of the wider area. By strengthening the fencing at the Center, it is possible to prevent the exit and movement of migrants to the community of Kokkinotrimithia or to other areas.

At the moment, the residents of «Pournara» are much fewer compared to the same date last year. Specifically, yesterday, the residents of the Center were 692, while last year, on the same day they amounted to 1,698. Asylum applications are also reduced, since for the period March – August 2022 applications amounted to 11.961, while this year, applications were 5.866.