With a 97% rate of returns of irregular migrants among new asylum applications, Cyprus ranks 1st among European Union countries in the period March-September 2023.

At the same time, Cyprus ranks 4th among the 27 Member States of the European Union in absolute numbers of returns and expulsions of irregular migrants, according to data for the 2nd quarter of 2023 published by Eurostat. Based on available data, in the period April-June 2023, a total of 1,775 returns of irregular migrants were made, mainly to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (Nigeria, Congo, Cameroon), countries that Cyprus has targeted with specific measures and an information campaign.

As a result of a series of measures implemented by our country, there has been a decrease in the number of asylum applications in recent months. According to the final official data of the Ministry of Interior, 723 asylum applications were submitted in September. At the same time, the balance of arrivals-returns is positive in September, when 824 returns and deportations of irregular migrants took place.

The measures implemented by Cyprus for migration management were at the center of the discussion of the Ministers of Interior and Migration of Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Italy and Malta during the MED5 Summit, held on 6-7 October in Thessaloniki, in the presence of the Vice-President of the European Commission, Mr. Margaritis Schinas.

Mr. Ioannou briefed the attendees extensively on the policy followed by Cyprus, with emphasis on deterring and reducing arrivals and increasing returns. The results have so far been positive, but the Minister of the Interior explained that the situation remains worrying and requires vigilance.

Amid the positive balance, the discussion on the bill for the creation of a Deputy Ministry of Migration and Asylum began today in the Parliamentary Committee on Internal Affairs, in the presence of the Minister of Interior. As Mr. Ioannou mentioned during the Committee’s meeting, with the inclusion of all competent Services and Departments responsible for migration and asylum under the umbrella of a Deputy Ministry, the State will be able to implement a comprehensive and coordinated strategy regarding migration management. The main axes of the bill are the prevention of irregular flows and the fight against networks of smugglers, the further acceleration of the examination of asylum applications, the improvement of conditions in reception and accommodation centers, the integration of legal residents into the labour market and society, the promotion of a policy on unaccompanied minors, etc.