Home » EU seeks refugee deal with Lebanon – DW – April 21, 2024

EU seeks refugee deal with Lebanon – DW – April 21, 2024

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EU seeks refugee deal with Lebanon – DW – April 21, 2024

According to Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulidis, an agreement with Lebanon is now being worked on to prevent unwanted Syrian refugees from entering the EU. “We want to help Lebanon deal with the refugees so that more don’t come to Cyprus,” said the head of state of the EU island republic in an interview with the Germany editorial network. He will travel to Lebanon on May 2nd together with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to announce a concrete financial package from the European Union.

Cyprus President: “It’s enough”

However, the package does not only include the financial aspect, emphasized Christodoulidis. It is also about supporting Lebanese institutions such as the armed forces. The latter are a stabilizing factor in Syria’s neighboring country.

Cyprus: inequality, racism, violence

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Christodoulidis described the current situation in Cyprus as critical. “I have to use the clearest words here: Enough is enough. We are not in a position to take in any more Syrian refugees.” Since the beginning of the year, around 4,000 migrants have landed on the island in the eastern Mediterranean – in the first quarter of the previous year there were only 78.

Asylum applications from Syrians are no longer processed

The refugee camps in Cyprus are overcrowded and the authorities have stopped processing Syrians’ asylum applications for the time being. Lebanon, which is only about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Cyprus, is mired in the worst economic crisis in its history – one of the worst crises in the world since the mid-19th century, according to the World Bank. The local currency has lost more than 95 percent of its value. The country with 5.3 million inhabitants is home to more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees. This makes it one of the countries that have taken in the most refugees per capita in the world. Migrants are trying to get to Cyprus by boat from the city of Tripoli in the north of the country.

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Experts see various factors behind the latest development – above all the uncertainty that the new war in the Gaza Strip, which has now lasted more than six months, is causing in the region. Most of the new arrivals in Cyprus are Syrian refugees who previously lived in Lebanon.

Certain areas in Syria should be classified as safe

“It’s enough. We are not in a position to take in any more Syrian refugees,” says Cyprus President Nikos ChristodoulidisImage: Petros Karadjias/AP/dpa/picture alliance

Christodoulidis said he asked the EU for help. There also needs to be a discussion about which people from Syria should be given a chance at asylum in the EU. “We expressly demand that certain areas in Syria be classified as safe regions,” he said.

In order to reduce unwanted migration, among other things, the EU recently made new cooperation and support agreements with Egypt and Tunisia. They provide billions in financial aid for the federal states. However, there is criticism of the planned closer cooperation because of the respective human rights situation.

pg/kle (dpa, afp)

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