Cyprus beefs up security measures to stem influx of migrants from Turkey
NICOSIA — Cyprus is beefing up security measures on its northwestern shores to stem a stream of migrants arriving from Turkey, an official statement said on Wednesday.
The measures were announced after a team of 15 Syrian migrants, among them a woman and a minor, were found overnight hiding behind rocks on a deserted beach where they had arrived a short while before.
It was the second group to arrive in the northwestern Cypriot shores, after another group of 15 immigrants were spotted there on Aug. 2.
The statement said there will be patrols and stationary lookouts along the coastline, just 70 kilometers from the southern coast of Turkey, while a patrol boat will monitor boat movements in the region.
A police spokesman said information was obtained that more immigrants are in the city of Mersin, Turkey, waiting for transport to Cyprus.
“The police are evaluating specific information on the traffickers,” the spokesman said.
“We are on high alert along in the region with other state authorities,” he added.
There is an increased military presence in the area, which is neighboring to territory occupied by Turkish troops in 1974, in reaction to a coup organized by the military rulers of Greece at the time.
Immigrants said on questioning that they paid 2,000 euros each to human traffickers to ferry them to Cyprus in speed boats.
Authorities are worried that after the agreement between the European Union (EU) and Turkey to stem a flood of immigrants from the Turkish shores to the Aegean Greek islands, many immigrants will try to travel to Cyprus as asylum seekers.
Under current EU quotas, Cyprus has to take less than 400 immigrants.
Several groups of immigrants either beached on Cyprus or were rescued at sea last year as they ventured the perilous trip to other European countries, mainly Italy.
Cyprus has not been up to now a favored destination of immigrants from the battle fields in the Middle East because of limited means to travel to large European countries. (PNA/Xinhua)