NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus police on Monday rescued 18 Syrian migrants after their boat started taking on water some 3.5 miles off the Mediterranean island nation’s southeastern coast.
Police said the 11 men, three unescorted minors, one woman and her three children had set sail from Tartus, Syria and were brought ashore aboard a police patrol vessel.
State-run Cyprus News Agency reported that the woman and her children were taken to the hospital after one of the kids had fainted. The migrants’ boat reportedly sank.
The remaining 14 migrants were taken to a reception center on the western fringes of the capital, Nicosia. A 23-year-old man was taken into custody on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry, police said.
The latest rescue comes after police rescued another 97 Syrian migrants aboard two boats over the last 72 hours.
Police said they intercepted on Sunday a 40-foot boat with 57 men, six women and 23 children aboard some 14 miles off the island’s southeastern coast. All 86 people, who departed from Lebanon, were taken ashore by a police patrol vessel and transported to the reception center.
Four men aged between 18-30 were detained, and face charges of facilitating the illegal entry of migrants, police said.
On Saturday, police intercepted another small boat with 11 migrants aboard some six miles off Cyprus’ southeastern tip. The 10 men and one unescorted minor had departed from Lebanon aboard their 11-foot boat, according to police. Three men aged between 31-47 were also detained.
Cyprus’ Interior Ministry had noted an increase in seaborne arrivals of Syrian migrants in recent months, although asylum applications have dropped significantly as a result of government actions to deter such arrivals, especially from sub-Saharan Africa.
According to official figures, asylum applications in June and July reached a combined 1,285 this year – less than a third than the same period last year.
To discourage more migrant arrivals, the Cypriot government decided to exclude migrants who arrived after Jan. 1st of this year from eligibility for relocation to another EU country.