This week, Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri visited Cyprus to meet with the Cypriot the Minister of Justice and Public Order, Minister of Interior and the Chief of Police. He also spoke with Frontex standing corps officers working at the Larnaca airport and visited the Pournara camp where migrants arriving on the island are registered and identified.
“We are ready to continue increasing our support to Cypriot authorities by strengthening border control and fighting against migrant smugglers and traffickers in human beings. We have redeployed standing corps officers from different EU and non-EU countries to assist Cyprus. This is a clear European response to the current situation – Cyprus is not alone,” said Frontex Executive Fabrice Leggeri.
Last year, Frontex doubled its operational support to Cyprus in response to the high number of illegal arrivals on the island. In 2021, 12 359 migrants were registered in Cyprus, 163% more than in 2020, and 60% more than in 2019.
Cypriot authorities are not alone: Frontex has three ongoing operations on the island with 29 officers that help Cyprus ensure effective migration management.
In two mobile offices, Frontex standing corps officers are supporting the identification and screening of migrants arriving on the island; they also gather information on people-smuggling networks.
Frontex also supports Cypriot authorities with its expertise in return. Frontex return experts are working at the Larnaca airport to assist with return procedures and operations. Last year, Cypriot authorities carried out 104 return operations with Frontex’s assistance.
The cooperation in return-related matters is based on an action plan signed by Frontex and Cypriot authorities in June last year. It defines the framework of cooperation, including support in identification missions in non-EU countries, deployment of Frontex return experts that help establish working relations with non-EU countries and deployment of interpreters. Under the agreement, Frontex also sends return counsellors to Cyprus whose role is to inform migrants about the possibilities to go back to their home countries voluntarily.