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Cyprus struggles to cope with increased influx of asylum seekers

More than 140 refugees arrived in just four days from September 1 to 4, in what the government said was a significant spike in irregular immigration.

According to statistics, the EU’s easternmost state of Cyprus had received over 4,000 asylum requests in the first eight months of 2018, which was 55 percent more than for the same period last year.

Cyprus, located 160 kilometers from the coast of war-torn Syria, had not seen a massive inflow of migrants experienced by Turkey and Greece until this year.

In 2018, many European countries such as Italy and Greece launched stricter regulations on receiving migrants, which made Cyprus a new option for migrants to enter Europe.

“The refugees coming from the Middle East are looking for ways in order to find better living conditions, and from the moment it is now very difficult for them to go to Greece via Turkey. They are seeking to find different routes and Cyprus is one of those routes and that’s why we are experiencing a higher number of refugees trying to reach Cyprus,” said George N. Tzogopoulos, senior research fellow at the Center International de Formation Europeenne(CIFE) and an expert on EU affairs.

Cyprus, an island with a population of about a million, is already dealing with over 15,000 asylum seekers, with about 5,000 asylum applications still pending.

The Cypriot government has appealed to the EU for assistance for other member states and decided to apply stricter measures aimed at containing the increased inflow of migrants and refugees, an official statement said on Wednesday.

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