We cannot accept any more Syrian refugees: Cyprus President

Cyprus President, Nikos Christodoulides said on Sunday that Cyprus “cannot accept any more Syrian refugees”.

In an interview with the Editor Network Germany (RND), he said “we are not in a position to take any more Syrian refugees. We are at our limit and can no longer cope with this flow of refugees.”

He added that a total of seven per cent of the population of the Republic of Cyprus are now refugees and expressed his will to begin being able to deport refugees directly back to Syria.

This would be done through the government’s plan to convince the European Union that parts of Syria are now safe enough to return migrants.

What was once a request and a suggestion is now a demand, as he said; “we expressly demand that certain areas in Syria be classified as safe regions.”

The government’s hardened rhetoric on the matter has in recent days been backed by firmer action to attempt to force down the number of asylum seekers arriving on the island.

Christodoulides announced in a social media post on April 13 that the government had suspended its processing of asylum claims for applicants of Syrian origin.

This announcement was rationalised two days later to mean that the government would act in this regard to the extent that European Union law will allow, and wait the maximum allowed period of time – 21 months – between the submission of an asylum application and it being examined.

On April 16, the government announced that it would revoke the protection status of 30 Syrian nationals who had travelled to their home country via the north.

Meanwhile, the government deployed two police boats to patrol off the coast of Lebanon to deter those who may wish to attempt to cross the Levantine sea to claim asylum in Cyprus.

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