France has agreed to help Cyprus negotiate with French-speaking African countries to take back their citizens whose asylum applications have been rejected.
Cyprus Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said on Saturday (Nov. 06) 15,000 migrants who have had their asylum applications denied can’t be deported because of the lack of any EU send-back agreements with their countries of origin.
Nouris said his French counterpart Gerald Darmanin made the pledge of assistance during a brief visit to the Cypriot capital on Friday.
Nouris said “the overwhelming majority” of migrants who arrived at ethnically split Cyprus in the last year hail from sub-Saharan African countries with which the European Union doesn’t have such send-back agreements.
The minister said he would possibly travel to Paris next month to thrash out details of such potential agreements and other migration issues.
Cyprus says it has the highest number of first-time asylum applications among all 27 EU members relative to its population of 1.1 million and its reception system has reached a breaking point.
Around 80% of all migrants enter Cyprus from its breakaway north and then cross a porous, UN-controlled buffer zone to seek asylum in the internationally recognized south.
Cyprus this week signed a 27.5 million euro (US$31.8 million) deal with Israel for the installation of a camera system to monitor the 180-kilometer long buffer zone.
The Cypriot government claims that Turkey systematically forward asylum-seekers to the Mediterranean island’s Turkish Cypriot north so that they pressure the island’s southern, UN-recognized government.
Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence in the north. Decades of reunification talks have got nowhere. (Source: Arab News)