EU: Migrant deal with Egypt also possible with Lebanon

EU: Migrant deal with Egypt also possible with Lebanon
Margaritis Schinas, the EU commissioner, said on Friday that the EU could strike a deal with Lebanon to stem the arrivals of migrants.
2 min read
Syrian refugees return home from Turkey after the Massive 7.8 Magnitude earthquake [GETTY]

EU commissioner Margaritis Schinas said on Friday that the European Union could strike a deal with Lebanon to stem arrivals of migrants, as Cyprus complained a surge in arrivals from the Middle East was inundating it.

The EU has entered agreements with several countries to help them deal with increased migration burdens and, ultimately, prevent a spillover into the bloc's 27 member states. Rights groups have sharply criticised the pacts. Schinas, the European Commission's vice president for promoting the European way of life, said a deal with Lebanon could be brokered along the lines of one the EU signed with Egypt on 17 March. Considerable preparation was required, he said.

"We had worked with Egypt for quite some time, but I consider that it's absolutely realistic to move correspondingly with Lebanon," he said during a visit to Cyprus.

Cyprus, the EU's easternmost state, lies just 100 miles (160 km) from Syria and Lebanon, and arrivals of asylum seekers have been rising in recent months. Lebanon is in an economic crisis and also hosts hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.

In one day, 11 March, 458 Syrians arrived in Cyprus on six small boats. This month alone, authorities have registered 533 arrivals by sea, compared to 36 in March last year.

Book Club
Live Story

"Our country ... is facing asphyxiating pressure because of the large number of Syrians arriving in Cyprus," Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said after meeting Schinas. Nicosia wants the bloc to consider declaring parts of war-ravaged Syria safe, which would allow authorities to repatriate people arriving from there.

UN data shows that about 34,000 people have entered the EU through irregular channels this year, mainly across the Mediterranean