Ioannou: Cyprus willing to explore labour force pilot programme

Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou conveyed Cyprus' willingness to look into implementing a pilot programme to attract labour force from third countries, at a meeting with the Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Amy Pope.

Ioannou met with Pope and Assistant High Commissioner for Protection of the UNHCR in Geneva Gillian Triggs, on the sidelines of the International Forum for Refugees, according to an official press release.

They discussed asylum issues, ways to promote legal migration, integration of asylum seekers and refugees and labor force from third countries.

Ioannou conveyed the willingness of the Republic of Cyprus to cooperate with the relevant IOM teams, in order to implement a pilot programme to attract labour force from third countries, during his meeting with Pope.

The purpose of the effort, which is also being discussed at EU level, is to replace illegal flows with legal migration, based on the needs of each country.

Since the IOM has missions in many of the countries of origin of migrants, Ioannou and Pope considered establishing a process whereby the IOM would act as an intermediary for host countries, promoting the proposal to provide alternative legal routes for employment instead of illegal migration.

They both agreed that the effort could be facilitated by the development of information programmes in the countries of origin, as well as through the cooperation of the IOM with EU countries, in order to promote legal migration based on their real labor force needs.

The two officials also discussed the assistance IOM could offer in integration issues and supervision of asylum seekers, particularly in relation to medical structures, structures for hosting vulnerable migrants, etc.

In addition, special reference was made to the possibility of using Cyprus as a safe transit place in the Eastern Mediterranean region, for the transfer of logistical equipment from the IOM to the Gaza region.

Ioannou briefed the IOM Head on Nicosia’s proposal for the humanitarian corridor for the civilians in Gaza.

UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Gillian Triggs said she recognised the change in Cyprus’ immigration approach in her meeting with Ioannou, according to the press release.

Triggs referred to her visit to Cyprus last October, her second since 2021 and praised the excellent work, as she described it, in relation to the management of asylum seekers.

She expressed her satisfaction with the actions of the Cyprus government to formulate a cross-cultural strategy for the integration of refugees in the economy, labor market and society.

Referring to integration issues, the Minister noted that Cyprus receives increased flows of immigrants from Syria and explained that the very large number of Syrians creates difficulties in relation to actions for their integration.

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