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Cyprus authorities rescue 45 Syrian migrants in two boats

Migrants rescued in the Mediterranean sea wait to disembark from the Sea-Eye 4 rescue vessel as it arrives in the port of Pozzallo, in Sicily — AFP/File

At least 45 Syrian migrants are reported to have been rescued by the Cypriot authorities from two vessels as the country’s emergency services received information about the two boats in distress near a coastal tourist resort Friday.

According to the eastern Mediterranean island’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, it had brought ashore 29 men, five women and 11 children who had been afloat off Cape Greco Thursday evening.

“They were in good health and had been transferred to a migrant reception centre on the outskirts of the capital Nicosia,” said Police.

Authorities have also detained two people, 20 and 18, on suspicion of navigating the boats and were set to be presented before the court Friday.

European Union (EU) member Cyprus noted that it is on “the front line of the bloc’s irregular migration flows, and last year registered the EU’s highest number of first-time asylum applicants per capita.”

Those rescued Thursday evening were 18 irregular migrants on a wooden boat and another 27 aboard an inflatable craft.

Police said they had set off from war-torn Syria before being detected off Cape Greco, near the tourist resort of Aya Napa on the island’s southeast coast.

The rescue operation comes after a boat carrying 37 Syrian migrants was intercepted off Cape Greco and escorted to shore Wednesday.

Cypriot authorities say there has been a rise in migrants arriving by boat, with a 60% increase recorded in the first five months of 2023 compared with last year.

They said: “Most migrants arriving on boats set out from the port of Tartus in Syria, which has been ravaged by more than a decade of war, although fighting has subsided since 2020.”

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