Saturday

4th Feb 2023

Cyprus worried about potential Syrian refugees

The incoming Cypriot EU presidency is worried that Syrian refugees could arrive en masse in the island-nation and in the EU more broadly if the conflict gets worse.

Cyprus, located around 170 km west of Syria, is drawing up plans in case Syrian boat refugees arrive on its coast, a Cypriot source told this website.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Cyprus is preparing plans for the possible arrival of Syrian refugees on its coast (Photo: European Commission)

Syrian refugees have so far made their way across land borders to Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey.

The UN estimates that there were 43,000 of them registered as of April in the four countries, with another 12,000-or-so unregistered people also displaced in the region.

Turkey, which shares a 900-km-long border with Syria, has over half of all registered refugees stationed mostly in camps in the Hatay province.

Few Syrians have sought asylum in the EU so far. Around 700 filed for protection at EU airports in 2011. About 1,200 Syrian migrants were detected attempting to cross land borders last year according to the EU's border control agency, Frontex.

The weekend massacre in Houla in western Syria on Friday (25 May) has raised concerns many more could come in future.

Over 100 people were killed, including 49 children and 34 women, when government forces shelled the village. Reports indicate that government-controlled militia, or "shabiha," later went from house to house killing people by hand.

Last year's Arab Spring uprisings saw 25,000 Tunisian migrants arrive on the small Italian island of Lampedusa, even though the Tunisian revolution was mostly peaceful.

The island was unprepared for the influx. Many of the Tunisians had to sleep rough, while others tried to go France, but were forced back to Italy.

The scenario of another refugee crisis could further complicate prospects of finalising the EU's Common European Asylum System (Ceas), due before the end the year.

Ceas is high on the EU Cypriot presidency's agenda and the Cypriot source added that "solidarity and effectiveness" will be needed to finalise it.

But a draft regulation and a directive on asylum are currently stuck in the council, with the Danish EU presidency hoping to find a middle-ground among dissenting member states before July.

France and Italy acted against 'spirit' of EU border laws

Both France and Italy acted within the law when they imposed measures against the thousands of Tunisian immigrants earlier this year, but they breached the "spirit" of the EU's freedom of movement agreement, the EU commission has said.

Opinion

Why the new ECHR Ukraine-Russia ruling matters

The ECHR ruled that Russia was in "effective control" of separatist regions of Eastern Ukraine from 11 May 2014. In doing so, the court has formally acknowledged the inter-state character of the conflict and Russia's culpability for human rights abuses.

Opinion

Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency

The director of Amnesty International Greece on the political spying scandal that now threatens to bring down prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Activists and NGO staff work with the constant fear that they are being spied on.

Latest News

  1. Greece faces possible court over 'prison-like' EU-funded migration centres
  2. How the centre-right can take on hard-right and win big in 2024
  3. Top EU officials show Ukraine solidarity on risky trip
  4. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  5. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  6. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  7. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  8. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us