Cyprus becomes new gateway for migrants to Europe

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The influx of migrants to the island of Cyprus continues, with local security authorities detaining a ship with 55 migrants on board in the southeastern part of the island, the Kronen Zeitung reported. It is not yet clear where the migrants came from, but the authorities believe that they sailed from Lebanon. After being tested for coronavirus, the detained migrants were taken to an already overcrowded reception center. In the last few years, the number of migrants coming to the island has increased dramatically. In 2019, 10,000 migrants arrived on the island. A year earlier, it was 7,761 migrants, while in 2017 and 2016, the police registered 4,582 and 2,936 people, respectively. Data for 2020 is not yet available, but recently Cyprus has faced a growing influx of migrants.

President of Cyprus Nikos Anastasiades has repeatedly expressed concern about the situation and asked the European Union for help. According to him, in terms of population, Cyprus has the highest number of migrants from all EU countries, with more than 3.5 percent of the population consisting of migrants. Although the island has become a gateway to Europe for many migrants, they have trouble getting out of the country to other states because Cyprus is not in the Schengen area. The situation is further complicated by the island being divided into Greek and Turkish parts. In the southern part, there is the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, which has been a member of the European Union since 2004. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was established in the north, and only Turkey recognizes it. Many refugees arrive in Cyprus from Turkey, which lies about 70 kilometers from Cyprus, or Lebanon, which is 170 kilometers away. Title image: A police officer stands guard as migrants stand inside a refugee camp in Kokkinotrimithia outside of Nicosia, Cyprus, on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. Cyprus’ interior minister says he has asked police to launch a criminal probe into allegations that underage girls staying at a migrants’ reception center were sexually harassed by other adults staying there. (AP Photo/Philippos Christou)

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