Migrants enter a camp for refugees on Cyprus | Photo: picture-alliance / AP Photo/ P. Karadijas
Migrants enter a camp for refugees on Cyprus | Photo: picture-alliance / AP Photo/ P. Karadijas

The government in Cyprus has announced it will deport 17 migrants as soon as international flights allow. The migrants, whose nationalities and alleged crimes have not been disclosed, are being held in a detention center on the island.

The 17 migrants are being held in a detention center on suspicion of having links to extremist terror groups or having committed terrorist acts, said Cyprus’ interior ministry in a statement to the news agency Associated Press (AP).

Their deportation will proceed as soon as commercial flights resume, the interior ministry continued. The suspicions surrounding the men, the statement went on, were based on intelligence provided to the government by "security agencies and law enforcement authorities," including Europol and Interpol.

Information regarding the men's ages, nationalities or with which terror groups they are accused of having been linked has also not been disclosed.

Arrivals to CyprusCyprus is the most eastern EU country and located much closer to Syria and Turkey than the rest of the EU  Credit France24The lockdown in Cyprus began on March 15. According to AP, most of the 3,000 migrants who have arrived on the island since the beginning of the year arrived before the novel coronavirus restrictions were in place.

The most recent UNHCR data shows 468 migrants have arrived by sea to Cyprus this year. The majority of arrivals now fly via Turkey and on via Turkish-administered northern Cyprus before attempting to cross the porous "green line" between northern Cyprus and the Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus in the south of the island.

InfoMigrants French wrote that according to the Cypriot government, in 2019 Cyprus was among the countries in Europe with one of the greatest numbers of asylum seekers per capita. In 2019, according to government figures, there were about 34,000 asylum seekers, or 3.8% of the population of the republic.

According to the UNHCR, those asylum seekers currently wait between three and five years before they receive an answer to their asylum application.

With information from AP.

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