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Cyprus Halts Acceptance of Asylum Requests from Syrians Amid Increase in Arrivals

Cyprus Halts Acceptance of Asylum Requests from Syrians Amid Increase in Arrivals

Cyprus has announced the suspension of processing asylum applications from Syrian nationals due to a surge in refugees arriving by boat, primarily from Lebanon. The decision was made in light of the overwhelming numbers of asylum seekers reaching the island nation and ongoing efforts to designate certain areas in war-torn Syria as safe zones for potential repatriation. The move comes following Cypriot President Nicos Christodoulides’ recent visit to Lebanon to address the escalating situation.

Reasons for Suspension

The Cypriot government cited the need to address the significant increase in migrant arrivals, with over 2,000 individuals having reached Cyprus by sea between January and April this year, compared to just 78 during the same period last year. The suspension also aims to urge the European Union to provide support to Lebanon to prevent further departures of migrant-filled boats from its shores.

President Christodoulides emphasized the importance of EU assistance in curbing the flow of migrants and ensuring effective monitoring of Lebanon’s coastline to deter boat departures. Despite existing agreements between Cyprus and Lebanon for the return of migrants attempting to reach Cyprus, challenges persist due to domestic pressures in Lebanon, exacerbated by its economic crisis.

Appeal for EU Support

During his visit to Lebanon, President Christodoulides called on the European Union to offer financial aid to help Lebanon address the issue of migrant departures. The President stressed the need for EU support to be contingent on Lebanon’s efforts to prevent irregular migration and uphold their end of the agreement with Cyprus.

Efforts are underway to explore the possibility of declaring certain parts of Syria as safe zones, enabling EU nations to repatriate Syrians from those designated areas. Cyprus, along with Denmark and Czechia, is working on a proposal to initiate discussions within the EU regarding the establishment of safe zones in Syria.

Challenges and Concerns

Despite the push for repatriation to safe areas in Syria, various international organizations, human rights groups, and governments maintain that the conditions in Syria are not yet conducive for the return of refugees. The prolonged civil war in Syria has created a complex humanitarian crisis, raising concerns about the safety and well-being of individuals being sent back to the war-torn country.

The suspension of asylum applications from Syrians in Cyprus reflects the challenges posed by the influx of refugees and the need for coordinated efforts at the regional and international levels to address the root causes of irregular migration and displacement.

Impact on Asylum Seekers

As a result of the suspension, asylum seekers from Syria will be accommodated in reception camps in Cyprus, where they will receive basic necessities such as food and shelter. However, they will not be entitled to additional benefits, and those who choose to leave the facilities will forfeit their benefits and will not be permitted to work in the country.

The temporary halt in processing asylum requests underscores the complexities of managing refugee flows and the importance of finding sustainable solutions to support both the asylum seekers and the host countries grappling with the repercussions of mass migration.


1. Why has Cyprus suspended the processing of asylum applications from Syrians?

Cyprus has suspended asylum applications from Syrians due to a significant increase in arrivals by boat, primarily from Lebanon, prompting concerns about the capacity to manage the influx.

2. What efforts are being made to address the situation?

The Cypriot government is seeking EU support to assist Lebanon in preventing migrant departures and exploring the possibility of designating safe zones in Syria for potential repatriation of refugees.

3. How will the suspension impact asylum seekers in Cyprus?

Asylum seekers from Syria will be accommodated in reception camps but will not be entitled to additional benefits. Those leaving the facilities will forfeit their benefits and will not be allowed to work in Cyprus.

4. What challenges are associated with repatriating refugees to Syria?

Concerns have been raised by international organizations and governments about the safety and conditions in Syria, highlighting the complexities of repatriating individuals to a country still affected by conflict.

5. How is the European Union involved in addressing the migrant crisis?

Cyprus is calling on the EU to provide financial support to Lebanon and is working with EU partners to discuss the establishment of safe zones in Syria to facilitate the repatriation of refugees from designated areas.

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