Cypriot coastguard rescues 150 migrants from boats off Cape Greco

Athens, Apr. 02, (dpa/GNA) – The Cypriot coastguard rescued around 150 migrants from three boats east of the island on Monday, in the latest rescues that came a day after 272 people were picked up from unseaworthy boats.

Monday’s rescue operation took place in the sea off Cape Greco, Phileleftheros newspaper reported, citing the authorities.

Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulidis called an emergency meeting of the National Security Council for Tuesday amid a greater number seeking to make the journey from Lebanon to Cyprus, according to the authorities.

It came after 272 people who had set sail from Lebanon were rescued on Sunday, who were rescued by the Cypriot coastguard and fishing boats as they travelled to the east coast of the island in five overcrowded boats.

Sunday brought the second-largest number of people this year, after March 11, when six boats carrying 458 Syrian migrants set sail for Cyprus.

So far this year, 2,675 migrants have reached Cyprus, an average of around 30 people per day, according to statistics issued by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Authorities in Cyprus are now on alert, the Cyprus Times newspaper reported earlier.

Not all migrants cross the sea. Some travel through the Turkish-occupied north of the island across the green buffer zone to the southern part, which is a member of the European Union.

The migrants rescued on Sunday were taken to reception centres west of the capital Nicosia. Four people who are believed to be smugglers were detained, the newspaper reported.

Cyprus has recorded by far the highest number of asylum applications per year compared to other EU states in terms of population size in recent years, according to EU statistics.