Ten European Union (EU) countries have accepted to participate in a migrant relocation plan, aimed at relieving pressure on the five so-called front EU states in the Mediterranean, Cypriot Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said on Wednesday.
Nouris told state CyBC radio that this was an encouraging development, but called for more EU countries to participate in the plan in the face of increasing arrivals in the five frontline states — Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Italy and Spain.
Nouris, back from a meeting of EU Interior Ministers in Luxembourg, said that there has been a sharp increase in the arrival of irregular migrants so far this year in EU countries, with a total of 150,000 expected to arrive in the five front states by the end of the year, Xinhua news agency reported.
This would mean an increase of more than 100 percent in migrant arrivals over last year, he said, adding that Cyprus alone expects as many as 20,000 irregular migrants this year.
The minister said that a total of 10,000 migrants arrived during the first five months of this year, an increase of 213 percent compared with the corresponding months of 2021.
A total of 13,668 migrants arrived in the EU in the first five months of this year through the eastern Mediterranean route. Two thirds of them were received by Cyprus, according to data released by Frontex, the EU’s external border agency. Frontex said these numbers do not include Ukrainians who flee from conflict areas of their country.