Cyprus asks UN to help stem ‘avalanche’ of asylum seekers

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Cypriot Interior Minister, Nikos Nouris, said on Monday that the Republic of Cyprus is asking for help from the United Nations to stem a recent ‘avalanche’ of asylum-seekers in the country.

Mr Nouris said the asylum-seekers are making their way from the ethnically divided island’s breakaway north across a UN-controlled buffer zone to seek refuge in numbers that authorities can’t cope with.

According to Ekathimerini, Mr Nouris said 94 percent of the 15,130 asylum-seekers who filed applications with the divided island’s internationally recognised government in the south through August this year had traversed the buffer zone. That is double the number from the same period last year.

The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) controls the buffer zone between the opposing sides. Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

Mr Nouris added that Cyprus has the highest per capita number of asylum-seekers in the EU and accused Turkey of channelling migrants to the island.

The Interior Minister said the UN has no mandate under its 58-year peacekeeping mission in Cyprus to carry out operations aimed at halting the flow of migrants across the buffer zone. But the peacekeeping force has sole jurisdiction of the entire 180 kilometre no-man’s land.

Mr Nouris will travel to New York this week for meetings with the UN Secretary-General’s Cabinet Chief Courtenay Rattray and UN Under Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix to brief them in detail about the situation.

READ MORE: Cyprus: The Forgotten Invasion.

Source: Ekathimerini.

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