Cyprus | Expanding cooperation with the International Organization for Migration
Defence Redefined
Published on 21/06/2022 at 14:36

The strengthening of cooperation between the Republic of Cyprus and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), especially in the repatriation of immigrants, was discussed by the Minister of Interior, Nikos Nouris, and IOM’s Regional Director for the EU, Norway, Switzerland and the UK, Ola Henrikson. 

During his visit to Cyprus, Mr. Henrikson reiterated the Organization’s intention to strengthen and expand its cooperation with the Cypriot government, Euronews reports.

As the Minister of Interior mentioned in his statements after the meeting, welcoming Mr. Henrikson, this is the first visit to Cyprus, during which they had the opportunity to discuss “the many problems that the country is facing as well as how Cyprus is handling the issue of the Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in Cyprus,” the Minister said.

Mr. Nouris explained that the IOM “is a very important organization, which fully cooperates with the Ministry of Interior in matters of immigration and especially in matters of immigrants’ returns and various social integration programs.”

The Minister said that during the meeting, the needs of Cyprus in terms of efforts to manage the immigration issue were raised, on the one hand, to limit the flows through the Green Line from Turkey, and on the other hand to increase the number of repatriated immigrants. This, as he explained, falls exactly within the scope of the IOM, since many programs running for the voluntary return of immigrants to their countries of origin fall under the organization’s umbrella.

The purpose of the Cypriot government, as Mr. Nouris stressed, is “to improve the numbers of returns, with the support of the EU and various organizations, such as IOM or FRONTEX.” He stressed that “we have stated our readiness to expand the cooperation between us, to help Cyprus deal with this problem, specifically in terms of the economic aspect because in the rest of the issues, as he said, there are no problems.”

In closing, he thanked Mr. Henrikson “for the understanding and cooperation as well as the representative of the Organization in Cyprus, Mrs. Koudouna” for the excellent, as he put it, cooperation in various programs.

Also read: Hellenic Coast Guard | Five boats with about 590 immigrants attempt to enter Greek territorial waters

For his part, Ola Henrikson stated that a constructive discussion took place during the meeting and reminded that there’s good long-lasting cooperation between the Republic of Cyprus and the IOM. He explained that the role of the Organization is particularly focused on issues of returns, integration, and reception, especially of unaccompanied minors. Furthermore, he conveyed to the Minister the intention of the IOM to “strengthen and expand cooperation, where required.”

“We understand the challenges facing Cyprus due to the large number of arrivals, compared to its population,” he said, referring to the topics covered during the meeting, adding that the way to deal with refugees from Ukraine arriving in Cyprus was also on the table.

Answering a reporter’s question about the measures taken to prevent the arrival of immigrants through the Green Line, Mr. Henrikson said that this issue is not among the main goals of his visit, as the role of the IOM is mainly to provide assistance to governments to manage immigration flows smoothly.

Asked by a journalist about the type of financial assistance that the IOM could provide to the Republic of Cyprus for the management of immigration, Mr. Nouris clarified that the economic aspect of the cooperation is determined according to the needs of the Republic and stressed that “we especially look forward to cooperation with regard to immigrants’ returns”.

Mr. Henrikson explained that most IOM actions in EU Member-States are funded by European funds or sub-funds. “In this area we see opportunities and, of course, we greatly appreciate the cooperation with the Cypriot government for the implementation of relevant programs. Finally, he stressed that “the needs of the government are what guide us, so that we can apply for funding.”

Also read: Cyprus | 300 Special Police Officers for Green Line surveillance




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