More refugees, economic migrants arrive by sea

(Photo: Famagusta Gazette)

More refugees and economic migrants arrived in Cyprus aboard a small boat which docked in a fishing port on the eastern coast of Cyprus in the early evening on Tuesday, authorities said.

Cypriot police, who spotted the boat about five nautical miles off the coast and escorted it in safety into port, said 101 people were aboard. Among them, 43 were under-aged children, of whom nine were unaccompanied, and 14 were women, of whom four were pregnant.

The new arrivals added to about 220 people, mostly economic migrants from African and Asian countries, who slipped from the northern part of Cyprus since Sunday, requesting political asylum.

“Cyprus is sinking under the burden of the refugees and economic migrants. We do not receive any more, simply because we do not have the necessary facilities to accommodate them,” Cypriot Interior Minister Nikos Nouris said after the new arrivals.

Nouris added that a total of 859 unregulated migrants arrived since Jan. 1, of whom 349 in the last six days.

He said that for the first time 80 percent of those who arrived come from African countries where there is neither war nor internal conflict.

Nouris added that the European Union must hammer out a new refugee policy to share the burden among front line countries and he will demand that at an EU ministerial meeting on March 12.