Ioannou: Properly managing refugee flows high on government's agenda

Despite increased pressure, the effective and adequate management of refugee flows remains high on the Government's policies agenda, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva this week.

The minister added that Cyprus remains committed to its commitments to provide support and assistance to refugees arriving in the country, an Interior Ministry press release said.

In his intervention, Ioannou highlighted the pressure that Cyprus has been under in recent years with the increased flows of immigrants/refugees.

Ioannou noted that Cyprus is the EU member state with the highest number of new applications for international protection in proportion to its population. He also said that the percentage of new asylum seekers and persons who received protection status in Cyprus has reached 5% of the population, while in the EU the average is 1.5%. The large increase in asylum applications causes pressures on the country's infrastructure and reception and hospitality system, Ioannou said, according to the press release.

But despite the increased pressures, the effective and adequate management of refugee flows remains high on the Government's policies agenda, Ioannou said. Cyprus, he added, remains committed to the implementation of its commitments to provide support and assistance to refugees arriving in the country. As he said, upgrading the infrastructure is high in Cyprus’ priorities and that to this end, it has proceeded to improve and expand the existing infrastructure for the reception and accommodation of immigrants and to create new ones.

The Minister also referred to the new cross-cultural integration strategy that is being formulated, adding that, for this strategy, the current situation in the country, the number of arrivals and the country’s response capabilities were taken into account.

Referring to Ukrainian refugees hosted in Cyprus, the Minister referred to the education and training programmes offered that aim at facilitating their access to the labour market and their smooth integration into the community, it is noted. These programmes and measures, he said, are being implemented on a pilot basis for Ukrainians, with the aim of being extended to all refugees in the future, thus contributing to their integration into the Cypriot economy and society.

Ioannou also highlighted the need for closer cooperation of all parties involved to better deal with the refugee issue, given that it is an issue with international dimensions that needs coordinated action at global level.

(Photo: PIO)

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