Dozens of migrants seized off Cyprus

Athens, Aug. 23, (dpa/GNA) - Cypriot security authorities intercepted two boats with a total of 88 migrants on board off the island's south-east coast at the weekend.

According to state radio RIK on Monday, one man managed to reach the coast of the Mediterranean island by swimming. The police were searching for him, the report said.

Where the people came from remained unclear at first. The authorities are sure that the migrants started from Lebanon. For this reason, they are all to be brought back to Lebanon - after being checked for health and given provisions - accompanied by boats from the Cypriot coastguard, state radio reported further.

Migrants arrive in Cyprus almost daily in boats from Turkey and the Middle East. Those who come from Lebanon - regardless of nationality - are sent back immediately.

Cyprus has signed an agreement with Lebanon stating that the neighbouring country is safe. As a result, hundreds of migrants have been refused permission to dock in a Cypriot port in recent months.

The small EU island republic of Cyprus is under pressure: According to EU statistics, Cyprus received the most asylum applications of all EU states last year in relation to the size of its population.