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Cyprus concerned over spike in Syrian irregular migration from Lebanon

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Cyprus expressed deep concern on Tuesday over a spike in the number of largely Syrian irregular immigrants it said were coming from neighbouring Lebanon after more than 350 such arrivals were recorded in two days.

Migrants leave Pournara refugee camp during clashes in Kokkinotrimithia on the outskirts of Nicosia, Cyprus October 28, 2022. Reuters/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Cyprus expressed deep concern on Tuesday over a spike in the number of largely Syrian irregular immigrants it said were coming from neighbouring Lebanon after more than 350 such arrivals were recorded in two days.

Cyprus, the EU's easternmost state, lies just 100 miles (160 km) from Syria and Lebanon, and arrivals of asylum seekers from the former particularly have surged in recent months. Lebanon, which is in economic crisis, also hosts hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.

In uncharacteristically blunt comments, Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides said it was "deeply concerning" that the arrival of Syrian migrants was consistently on the rise in recent weeks.

"I fully understand the challenges Lebanon is facing but exporting migrants to Cyprus should not be the answer and cannot be accepted," he said after a meeting with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola.

Nicosia wants the European Union to consider declaring parts of war-ravaged Syria safe, which would allow for the repatriation of asylum seekers arriving at neighbouring countries.

Last month, EU Commissioner Margaritis Schinas said the European Union could strike a deal with Lebanon to stem the outflow of migrants, as Cyprus complained it was being inundated by a surge in arrivals from the Middle East.

The EU has entered agreements with several countries to help them deal with increased migration burdens, and, ultimately, to prevent a spillover into the 27 member states of the bloc. Rights groups have sharply criticised the pacts.

 

(Reporting by Michele Kambas; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Reporting by Michele Kambas

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