Police in Cyprus on Monday (23/10) arrested ten people suspected of running a criminal gang that smuggled migrants, as the island faced a new surge in migrant arrivals at the weekend.
Cyprus, located at the crossroads of three continents, has seen an unusual increase in migration since 2017. Cypriot officials in recent days have expressed concern that the rapidly deteriorating security situation in the Middle East could lead to a surge in the number of people leaving the region.
Some 264 Syrians arrived at the weekend after setting off from the Lebanese coast, an interior ministry spokesman said.
Police said the suspected smugglers were arrested at various locations in the Paphos district, West Cyprus, on suspicion of conspiring to commit a crime, belonging to a criminal organization, smuggling and money laundering.
A large amount of cash was found on one of the suspects, police said.
The number of migrant arrivals this year is relatively lower than a record 21,565 asylum applications in 2022, according to figures from the UN refugee agency UNHCR. Until the end of August, Cyprus had received 7,369 asylum applications from new arrivals. (uh/ab)