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Authorities in Cyprus grapple with new wave of sea immigrants arriving from Syria

Cypriot authorities are grappling with a new wave of sea immigrants arriving from Syria, the second such occurrence in two weeks, Cyprus News Agency reported on Monday, quoting police officials.

Within 24 hours, at least seven small boats, transporting an estimated 500 Syrian immigrants, made landfall or were intercepted off Cyprus’s southeastern coast by marine police patrol boats, reports indicate.

Rescue operations were initiated, amid growing concerns about overcrowding on some of the vessels.

These arrivals, originating from Lebanon, approximately 200 km southeast of Cyprus, mark the second major influx following a similar occurrence on Jan. 13 which brought over 500 Syrian nationals.

Cyprus’ Interior Minister Konstantinos Ioannou has expressed concern about the doubling of Syrian immigrant arrivals in recent months, which is mainly attributed to heightened hostilities in Gaza.

The minister emphasized the strain on Cyprus’s resources due to large immigrant influxes, urging the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, the Frontex, to intercept illegal boats in neighboring countries.

Stricter regulations have reduced illegal immigration from Africa and Asia. Still, concern remains over the rising number of undocumented economic immigrants arriving by sea from Lebanon, posing further concerns to Cypriot authorities, according to local media reports. ■

Famagusta Gazette