Dozens of asylum seekers transferred from Cyprus to Germany

Eventually, 500 migrants will be relocated as part of a voluntary pilot scheme

German ambassador to Cyprus Anke Schlimm with a family of asylum seekers, who are among 48 migrants being transferred to Germany, at the island's Larnaca International Airport. German Foreign Ministry / AFP
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Cyprus transferred 48 asylum seekers to Germany on Monday under a voluntary pilot scheme that will eventually see 500 relocated to help cope with a surge in migrants, authorities said.

The 48 applicants for international protection were moved from Cyprus to Germany through an EU solidarity system for voluntary relocation, the Cypriot Interior Ministry said.

Last year the EU member reported the highest number of asylum applicants per capita and Cyprus says it is at the forefront of the bloc's irregular migration.

"This is the first of a series of transfers that will take place in the coming months," the ministry said.

It said the transfer was made "in co-operation with the European Asylum Service, the European Commission, the International Organisation for Migration and the German authorities".

The German embassy in Nicosia said the first batch of asylum seekers were from Syria and Afghanistan.

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"This is the first relocation to my country but it is only the beginning, because Germany wants to take in more eligible persons soon to relieve the burden on Cyprus," ambassador Anke Schlimm said.

The Cypriot Interior Ministry said the EU had worked closely with member countries to ease the burden of irregular migration, especially among those considered "frontline states".

"Germany has accepted the relocation of 500 applicants," the ministry said.

"It contributes to addressing the migration challenges faced by the Mediterranean countries, especially Cyprus."

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The relocations are funded by the EU and the UN migration agency.

Nicosia claims that asylum seekers comprise six per cent of the island's population of 915,000, a record figure across the EU.

A total of 18,345 people had applied for asylum as of October, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said earlier in December, compared with 13,325 for the whole of 2021.

Updated: December 20, 2022, 12:54 AM