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Migrant detention centre in the Larnaca district Migrant detention centre in the Larnaca district  (AFP or licensors)

Cyprus to deter migrants with SMS warning

In an effort to deter migrants from attempting to land on Cyprus, the government in Nicosia is launching an SMS text message campaign to dispel the mistaken belief the country is a gateway to the European Union.

By Nathan Morley

The message is clear. Those attempting to disembark on the island will receive warning they would be effectively trapped and can’t move on to another EU country; given Cyprus is not part of the Schengen area.

In recent years, Cyprus has experienced an increased migrant influx, with local authorities recording arrivals from Syria, Iraq, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, and North Africa, amongst others.

Authorities say around 3.8 percent of those living on the island are asylum seekers, in stark contrast to many other EU states which have a lighter migration burden.

According to the government, there was an increase of over 130 percent in asylum applications during 2019 compared to 2018.

In August 2019, the government in Nicosia asked the European Commission to help relocate at least 5,000 asylum seekers to other European Union member states. At the time, the Cypriot Minister of Interior highlighted human trafficking, smuggling and exploitation of the asylum system.

In a related development, Malta says it is ready to act as a bridge between Libya and the European Union to address the problem of illegal migration.

Prime Minister Robert Abela says his brief visit to the war-torn country last week confirmed that Libya was facing its own migration problems with an influx of migrants from neighboring countries.

01 June 2020, 13:36