Authorities in Cyprus say they have arrested two Turkish citizens for trying to smuggle a group of Syrian migrants onto the island. The 13 migrants – including a newborn baby – were to be transferred to a reception center.
Two men were arrested overnight on suspicion of smuggling 13 migrants from Turkey to Cyprus, the state broadcaster RIK reported. According to the local news site, Philenews, authorities confiscated the boat and detained two Turkish citizens at a police station.
The suspected smugglers had been attempting to return to Turkey when they were apprehended, reports said.
The boat had been carrying three women, six men and four children, including a newborn baby, Philenews reported. The migrants were taken for medical examination before being transferred to the Limnitis police station, it added.
The migrants told police that they had paid the smugglers €2,000 each for the 70-kilometer journey from the Turkish coast, according to the German news agency dpa. They said they had waited on the coast for several days for the weather and sea conditions to allow the trip to Cyprus.
Cyprus camps are 'full'
Migrants continue to travel to Cyprus, usually in small groups, to seek asylum. Cyprus police regularly try to apprehend the migrants’ boats before they reach the island, according to dpa.
The government in Nicosia has repeatedly complained that the migrant camps in Cyprus are full and have asked the European Union for assistance.
In 2019, Cyprus police say around 10,000 migrants arrived on the island. The population is around 1.2 million.