Nicosia says Turkey complicit in migrant trafficking into Cyprus

Turkey and Turkish Cypriots are helping to traffic migrants to the internationally recognized southern part of the ethnically split island of Cyrus, Nicosia said.

Greek Cypriot Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides told state radio on Monday that a mass influx of migrants have arrived by aircraft to the north of the island from Turkey, the Associated Press reported.

Turkish Cypriot authorities are facilitating people trafficking rings, in collaboration with Turkey, Petrides said, noting that this should not be tolerated on a “European level.”

In May alone, 747 migrants from Africa, Asia and Syria crossed southward in the divided island, Petrides said.

Turkey hosts large communities of Afghans, Pakistanis and Iraqis, and also others from African nations who have ended up in the country with hopes of arriving in a European country. Some 286,000 irregular immigrants - those without proper documentation - landed in Turkey in 2018, according to immigration authority figures.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the north in response to a Greek Cypriot coup aiming to unite the island with Greece. Since then, the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus has controlled the southern two-thirds of the island, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, only recognised by Turkey, the northern third.

Cyprus’ policy of accepting third-country asylum claimants through the island’s north will be reviewed, the Greek Cyriot interior minister added.