NICOSIA - Aiming to prevent and combat illegal immigration the state will implement an action plan, said Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos on Tuesday.
He said fighting illegal immigration would help avoid undeclared, illegal work and exploitation of immigrants but also support the local labour market. He was speaking at a press conference to launch the programme “Colourful Societies” which aims to promote integration of third country nationals residing legally in Cyprus and their social inclusion in society.
Hasikos added that tackling illegal immigration and effectively managing legal immigration for better integration of immigrants are both necessary in order to develop a successful immigration policy.
“Government efforts are targeted towards locating and breaking trafficking rings of illegal immigration and combating illegal immigration through the Green Line,” said Hasikos.
“At the same time, efforts are being made to implement legislation in relation to employment of illegal migrants and also impose penalties to discourage such instances.”
He said efforts are also being made concerning improving the control system of issuing entry permits both for workers and students from third countries.
The Interior Ministry is examining an action plan for the integration of immigrants for the period 2014-2016.
The EU is responsible for forming comprehensive policies regarding integration of immigrants and said that to this end the EU Commission decided to set up Solidarity Funds.
Nicosia hopes to use EU funds for the promotion of legal migration and integration for the period 2014-2020 under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.
“This effort will help Cyprus continue activities which have brought about positive results in previous years and have helped with the integration of immigrants.”
Activities include immigrants learning the Greek language, history and culture, raising of awareness through campaigns, educating civil servants and private sector employees on migration issues and support towards vulnerable migrant groups.
“We are also trying to strengthen our collaboration with other Mediterranean member states that deal with similar immigration issues in order to achieve provision of EU support and promote our coordinated positions as to how to effectively provide solidarity between member states.”
The “Colourful Societies” programme is being implemented for the second consecutive year by Strovolos Municipality in collaboration with other local authorities, NGOs and private sector companies.
It is implemented within the framework of the 2012 Annual Action Programmes and is co-funded by the EU Solidarity Fund (95%) and the state (5%).
It aims to offer free services to some 10,000 third country nationals who legally work and reside in Cyprus.
These will include provision of social integration services, advanced teaching/education services, targeting prevention of illegal behaviour in employment, career services, information on securing of rights, skill support, and promotion of exchanges and interaction with locals.