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Cyprus has suspended processing of asylum applications by Syrian migrants

Cyprus has suspended processing of asylum applications by Syrian migrants in the aftermath of mass arrivals by sea and the escalation of tension between Israel and Iran, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said in a statement on Sunday.

Over 800 migrants of Syrian origin arrived on small boats from Lebanon within a week and a further 141 arrived in three boats on Saturday.

Under European Union (EU) regulations, Syrian migrants entering any EU country are entitled to additional protection as refugees coming from a region in conflict.

Over 30,000 people, who have received refugee status in Cyprus, are entitled to accommodation and a monthly allowance.

However, Ioannou said that the suspension of refugee status applications means that new applicants “will cease to have access to any rights deriving from the temporary protection regime and steps will be taken to repatriate them, either by voluntary return or through compulsory expulsion, when and if possible.”

Cyprus is working with other EU countries, such as Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Greece, to convince the European Commission that at least two regions in Syria are not anymore in a state of war.

Ioannou said the suspension of asylum procession for Syrians was decided upon “pending developments on the issue of the reassessment of Syria’s status and the designation of safe areas … and in the light of developments in the Middle East region.”

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Famagusta Gazette