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Cyprus brings boat carrying 38 Syrian refugees to shore

NICOSIA (AFP): Cypriot authorities said Tuesday they had towed a boat carrying 38 Syrian refugees to shore after it was found in the Mediterranean off the northwest coast of the island.

Police said the 33 men, four children and one woman on board were safely brought to land in the early hours of Tuesday after setting sail from Turkey.

The new arrivals told police they had waited for days to board a boat on the Turkish coast to be smuggled to Cyprus at a cost of $2,000 each.

All received medical checks and food while police took down their personal details. They are expected to be moved to a reception centre outside the capital Nicosia.

In recent months there has been a steady trickle of Syrian migrants arriving in the same area of Cyprus from Turkey, with 305 people in two boats rescued in September.

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.

Nonetheless, Nicosia has raised alarm bells telling Brussels than that the EU needs to act as it receives more and more asylum seekers.

EU data puts Cyprus fourth among the bloc’s 28 nations according to the number of asylum applications per capita.

UN migration figures show that the number of asylum demands in Cyprus has risen eightfold this year to 818 by the end of the third quarter, as opposed to 106 in 2016.

Since September 2014, over a dozen migrant boats have reached the island, bringing more than 1,700 migrants.

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