Police in Cyprus on Monday arrested ten individuals suspected of running a crime gang trafficking migrants, as the island saw a fresh spike in arrivals over the weekend.
Cyprus, which lies at the crossroads of three continents, has seen irregular migration rise since 2017. Cypriot officials have in recent days repeatedly expressed concern that the rapidly deteriorating security situation in the Middle East could lead to a surge in people fleeing the area.
Some 264 Syrians arrived over the weekend after setting off from the Lebanese coast, an interior ministry spokesperson said.
Police said the trafficking suspects were arrested at various locations in the western Paphos district on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a crime, being members of a criminal organization, trafficking and money laundering.
A large amount of cash was found in the possession of one suspect, police said.
Arrivals this year are still considerably lower than a record-breaking 21,565 asylum applications made for the whole of 2022, according to figures from the UN refugee agency UNHCR. Until the end of August, Cyprus had received 7,369 asylum applications from new arrivals.