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NICOSIA, July 5 (Itar-Tass) - Cyprus is unable to receive a single refugee from Syria for fear of an uncontrolled influx of theirs, Anny Shakali, director of the republic's migration department, told Itar-Tass.
"To us, the situation in Syria as of now poses the greatest threat. This is accounted for by the short distance between Cyprus and Syria, as well as by access which Syria refugees get in the Turkey-occupied territory of northern Cyprus. They have an opportunity to land on that side of the island and then cross the UN buffer zone dividing the island," Shakali said.
"We have completely barred Syrians' access to the country for work or studies in Cyprus. However, they illegals get across the nothern part of the island and apply for a refugee status. Their influx is very limited so far but it does exist and we do not know what may happen if the situation in Syria develops according to the worst scenario," Shakali pointed out.
A problem, she said, is also posed by the fact that many Syrians, who came to the country long before the latest events, already reside on the island.
We may not repatriate them, again owing to the situation in Syria," Shakali pointed out. She said that as of April this year there were 2,424 refugees having a limited access to the labour market in the republic. Those are mostly Syrians who seek the status of refugee.
The situation in the Syrian Arab Republic is discussed at every meeting of EU Foreign ministers "and at each such meeting we bring it to their notice that we are not ready to receive even a single refugee in the light of the crisis being experienced by our country," the migration department head said. "At the same time we are ready to give assistance in the transit of the citizens of third countries across Cyprus in the event of their evacuation from Syria," she added.