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Rising wave of Syrian refugees causes unrest in Cyprus

Since the start of the civil war in 2011, Syria has been experiencing instability: the ongoing violent conflict between pro-democratic insurgents and the dynastic regime of President Bashar al-Assad has significantly impacted the entire Middle East, involving local and international actors. The conflict led to the forced displacement of civilians and a sharp exodus of refugees. Additionally, access to food, water and healthcare is extremely scarce for civilians, especially in besieged areas. This conflict has created one of the biggest refugee crises in modern history, with millions of people fleeing to neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, as well as Europe.

The humanitarian crisis has been steadily worsening and has been at its peak, as a result of the ongoing war but also due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria in February 2023 and the worsening of the Israeli aggression on Gaza. Due to the worsening of the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the Cypriot government reported a high increase in Syrian refugees, coming from Lebanon and Syria, arriving in degraded boats after facing a journey that puts the lives of hundreds at risk. The government of Cyprus has requested assistance from the European Union, given the high number of asylum seekers per capita - the highest in the Union.

In response to these migratory pressures, Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides declared, in April 2024, the suspension of asylum requests from Syrian applicants, after the reception of more than 1000 refugees during the month of April alone.

Over the past years, thousands of civilians, including children, have experienced violent and degrading experiences. Efforts to find a political solution to the conflict have been in vain, and the humanitarian situation of the Syrian people worsens with each passing day, leading to conditions of extreme need, poverty and deficit. ComUnidade affirms its support towards this cause, extending its efforts to the Syrian people, and calling for the development of fair and adequate support networks that provide the best possible assistance to this admittedly fragile population.

Syrian refugees arrive to Cyprus. AFP via Arab News.

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