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Cyprus rescues 60 Syrian migrants stranded at sea for 6 days

Sixty Syrian migrants have been rescued by Cypriot authorities on Wednesday after being lost at sea for 6 days. 

The migrants were spotted by a merchant vessel on a small wooden fishing boat about 30 nautical miles off Cape Greco. 

According to Cyprus’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, all migrants have been hospitalized, including three children and one man who were found unconscious. Officials stated that they were all dehydrated. 

The boat reportedly left from Lebanon on 18 January. 

A written statement from the Cypriot Interior Minister, Constantinos Ioannou, highlights that Wednesday's incident is "unfortunate proof" of how people-smuggling rings are endangering lives. 

Overall, migrant arrivals to Cyprus have significantly declined. However, according to official interior ministry numbers, arrivals by sea have almost quadrupled from 937 in 2022 to 3,889 in 2023. 

The Cypriot government has been taking a tougher approach to migration which according to Ioannou has made the island a "less attractive economic destination" for migrants who don't qualify for asylum or international protection status. 

Ioannou has also previously stated that Cyprus is trying to get the EU to designate some parts of Syria as "safe zones" so that the repatriation of Syrian migrants would be more feasible. 

Read more on the Toronto Star, the Middle East Monitor, and AP

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