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Cyprus president desires the European Union to debate designating Syria protected zones for refugees

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NICOSIA, Cyprus — The European Union will not serve its personal finest pursuits if it doesn’t think about designating some components of Syria as protected zones so refugees and migrants can return there, the president of Cyprus mentioned Monday.

President Nikos Christodoulides mentioned Cyprus is working with like-minded EU member nations to start out a dialogue about that objective to be able to assist alleviate the strain that Mediterranean international locations receiving essentially the most refugees and migrants are below.

“I don’t think about not discussing the scenario inside Syria as an applicable possibility for the European Union,” Christodoulides mentioned after talks with Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

“The Cyprus Republic, in cooperation with different member states which share this method, is working towards initiating a dialogue inside the European Union in regards to the Syria scenario,” he mentioned.

In his most candid remarks on migration so far, Christodoulides mentioned he acknowledges the “sensitivities” that some EU international locations have on the difficulty however that the bloc “should deal with” whether or not some components of Syria are protected sufficient for migrants to return.

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“There are areas in Syria wherein we should study whether or not they’re protected and by extension, allow the return of migrants from these particular areas,” he mentioned.

Though 37% fewer migrants reached Cyprus final 12 months, official figures present migrant arrivals by boat from Syria and Lebanon elevated 355% – 4,259 in 2023 as in comparison with 937 in 2022.

Christodoulides thanked Steinmeier, the primary German president to go to Cyprus, for his nation’s determination to voluntarily settle for 1,000 asylum-seekers from Cyprus. Steinmeier mentioned by means of a translator that Germany understands the burden that Cyprus is below from people-smuggling.

Cypriot Inside Minister Constantinos Ioannou mentioned earlier this month that the overwhelming majority of these arriving to Cyprus by sea are Syrians who’ve fallen prey to people-smuggling rings in Syria and Lebanon.

He mentioned an settlement was in place for the extra energetic involvement of EU regulation enforcement company Europol in serving to to bust such smuggling rings, whereas Cypriot authorities have arrange a devoted unit to enhance policing and patrols.

Ioannou mentioned asylum functions in Cyprus dropped by 46% in 2023 whereas repatriations and voluntary departures elevated by 66%. Total, Cyprus recorded some 10,991 migrant arrivals final 12 months, some 6,447 fewer than in 2022.

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