Cyprus seeks UN assist to stem asylum-seeker ‘avalanche’

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NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus is looking for assist from the United Nations to stem an “avalanche” of migrants who make their approach from the ethnically divided island’s breakaway north throughout a U.N.-controlled buffer zone to hunt asylum in numbers that authorities can’t deal with, the inside minister mentioned Monday.

Minister Nikos Nouris mentioned 94% of the 15,130 asylum-seekers who filed purposes with the divided island’s internationally acknowledged authorities within the south by means of August this 12 months had traversed the buffer zone. That’s double the quantity from the identical interval final 12 months.

Nouris will journey to New York this week for conferences with the U.N. Secretary-Common’s Cupboard Chief Courtenay Rattray and U.N. Underneath Secretary-Common for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix to transient them intimately concerning the scenario.

Nouris mentioned the U.N. has no mandate beneath its 58-year peacekeeping mission in Cyprus to hold out operations aimed toward halting the move of migrants throughout the buffer zone. However the peacekeeping pressure has sole jurisdiction of the whole 180 kilometer (210-mile) no-man’s land.

“I wish to focus on with them how they understand the difficulty of crossings that we’re experiencing,” Nouris informed the Related Press.

The buffer zone was shaped within the wake of a 1974 Turkish invasion that was triggered by a coup aimed toward union with Greece. Solely Turkey acknowledges a declaration of independence by Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus’ northern third, the place most migrants arrive to the island.

Nouris mentioned three Greek Cypriot villages are utterly ensconced inside that U.N. buffer zone, which he referred to as “blind spots” the place Cypriot authorities don’t have any entry and can’t management migrant crossings.

Elsewhere alongside the buffer zone, Cyprus authorities authorities are placing up boundaries together with barbed wire fences and high-tech surveillance techniques and have shaped a 300-strong patrol unit that may search to impede crossings.

Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, however the buffer zone just isn’t thought-about an EU exterior border. Nouris mentioned the 27-nation bloc has formally acknowledged the buffer zone as a irregular migration gateway and empowered Cypriot authorities to cease crossings utilizing all means employed at exterior borders.

Nouris repeated that Cyprus has the very best per capita variety of asylum-seekers within the EU and accused Turkey of channeling migrants to the island. He additionally mentioned, for the primary time ever, 780 Afghans arrived in Cyprus final 12 months.

Observe all AP tales on world migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration.

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