Improvement work is to be carried out at the Pournara reception centre for asylum seekers at Kokkinotrimithia under a €2.38m contract signed at the Public Works Department.
The project is co-financed by government and EU funds under the Paionas programme and aims to boost the Republic of Cyprus capabilities to deal more effectively with migrant inflows.
It provides for improvement work at the Kokkinotrimithia reception centre for asylum seekers by increasing capacity and offering better living conditions for people seeking international protection in the first days of the arrival in Cyprus.
Cyprus was the top receiving country per capita of asylum seekers in the EU in 2018. Authorities say that the country cannot cope with the increased numbers. President Nicos Anastasiades has raised the issue with the EU while Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides will be raising it with the UN.
Last month, Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides said a total of 3,060 asylum seekers have crossed into the government controlled areas from the Turkish occupied north from the beginning of 2019 to June 2.
He spoke of an ‘acute problem’ and said that in one month from May 2 to June 2 alone, a total of 744 asylum seekers had crossed over.
The EU gives the Republic of Cyprus some tools to manage the situation, but these are inadequate because of the large numbers, Petrides said.
The reception centre at Pournara where the first interviews are held has far exceeded capacity and tents have been erected to deal with the problem. Cyprus receives financial aid from the EU — €8 m over seven years — only a fraction of what it spends.
But the issue is not money — Cyprus, because of its size, housing and labour markets can absorb only a specific number and current figures are many times these levels, he added.
Petrides said that 15,000 refugees have been granted international protection while another 15,000 applications are pending.