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Police pick up 19 migrants dropped off near Akamas

Cypriot authorities on Tuesday picked up 19 migrants on the island's northwest tip after being dropped off by suspect people smugglers, the Cyprus News Agency reported.

It is believed the migrants arrived by boat � in the Akamas region � on Monday night before being spotted by police at around 7.30am local time on Tuesday (Christmas Day), CNA reported.

It said after the migrants were dropped off on the rugged coast, the suspect traffickers got away on a speed boat which Cypriot marine police pursued and tried to intercept.

The origin of the irregular migrants � 14 men, two women and three children - is yet unknown as is their point of departure for Cyprus.

They will be taken to a reception centre in the capital Nicosia.

Over the past 12 months there has been a steady trickle of Syrian migrants arriving in Cyprus from Turkey and Lebanon.

Cyprus has warned Brussels it is struggling to cope from increased irregular migration flows recently ranking it top in first-time asylum claims in relation to its population.

It estimates that the influx of irregular migrants has exceeded 1,000 per month.

During the first 8 months of 2018, applications for international protection status were up by 55 per cent compared to the same period in 2017. --- Financial Mirror

Cyprus, a European Union member state located 100 miles (160 kilometres) from Syria's Mediterranean coast, has not seen the massive inflow of migrants experienced by Turkey and Greece.

Cyprus government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said on Monday that Nicosia is worried that there may a new wave of refugees to neighbouring countries following the US pull-out of Syria.

"We are expecting that the number of unregulated immigrants will go up should there be renewed fighting in Syria between forces which would seek to fill the vacuum," Prodromou told state TV.

Source: National News Agency

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