A migrant crisis is emerging in Cyprus as refugees make their escape to North Cyprus before crossing to the south of the island, a report by ‘New York Times’ says.
The number of asylum seekers in Cyprus is five times greater than it was in 2015. Last year, 11,900 migrants landed on the island, Meanwhile migration to the rest of the European Union has eased off, giving it the largest number per capita in Europe, the report said.
This is down to the divided status of the island, and because South Cyprus considers the Turkish administration in the north to be occupied territory.
At the same time, Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus, meaning that it is not covered by a deal agreed with the EU in 2016 to stem migration.
Most of the migrants are heading first to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus before crossing the border to the south and EU territory.
“The simplest way is to think of the north of Cyprus as the world’s biggest transit lounge,” the New York Times quoted James Ker-Lindsay, a senior research fellow at the London School of Economics, as saying.
“You’ve landed on the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, but it’s not until you’ve gone through the border check at the green line — which isn’t a border itself — that you’re officially in the Republic of Cyprus,” he said.