In a new investigation, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that the Cypriot authorities violently turned back 200 Lebanese migrants during the month of September. According to testimonies gathered by the organisation, the migrants were not able to file an asylum claim because of the police repression against them.
Accused of practicing "pushbacks" of exiles, the Cypriot authorities prevented 200 Lebanese migrants from applying for asylum between 29 August and 7 September 2020. In its investigation published on Tuesday, September 29, HRW gathered about 15 testimonies that the Cypriot Coast Guard was very violent against migrants who refused to turn back.
According to the investigation, a boat of migrants was thus abandoned in the open sea, before it was rescued by the Lebanese Coast Guard alerted by fishermen.
The Minister of the Interior, Nicos Nouris, recently said that Cyprus is no longer able to welcome new asylum seekers recalling that the island – which has a population of less than one million and has been a member of the EU since 2004 – has the highest proportion of migrants per capita in Europe. In this context, the Minister indicated that Cyprus was coordinating with the Lebanese authorities to legally remove Lebanese migrants.