A total of 302 migrants, mostly from Syria have crossed to Cyprus by boat from Turkey up until June, bringing the total number of registered asylum seekers to 1,884 in the first six months of 2017.
The data was released by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in its ‘Desperate Journeys’ report on refugees and migrants entering and crossing Europe via the Mediterranean sea and Western Balkans.
The newly compiled report shows a decline in the number of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe in the first half of 2017. However, without legal means available to them many are still resorting to being transported by ruthless people-smuggling and trafficking networks, risking death, serious abuses, or both.
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The same report reveals that although no further arrivals were recorded in Cyprus during May or June this year, others continued to be intercepted by the Turkish Coast Guard while attempting the crossing including a group of 100 Syrians, of which 35 were children, on June 27.
Many Syrians arriving in Cyprus report crossing irregularly from Turkey to join family members already granted protection in Cyprus, including husbands and fathers.
Many Syrians in Cyprus are granted subsidiary protection rather than refugee status.
Subsidiary protection is an international protection for persons seeking asylum who do not qualify as refugees. In Cyprus, beneficiaries of subsidiary protection are not eligible for family reunification.
During the period of the report, UNHCR and partners continued to receive allegations of push-backs by State authorities, including in Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Spain and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
There were also reports of access to asylum procedures being denied and allegations of violence in some instances.
While some States have taken steps to address such actions, for example through investigating allegations of human rights abuses at borders, the report notes that further measures are required.
The report notes that renewed commitment is needed to ensure protection and solutions, including for those on the move before they reach Libya and concrete steps to address smuggling and trafficking.
These measures must be combined with more safe and legal pathways, including increasing resettlement and facilitating family reunification which is considered crucial for the protection of refugees and migrants from criminal networks, to reduce reliance on smugglers, and in order to reduce further abuse and deaths.