NICOSIA: Cyprus authorities have rescued 120 Syrian migrants from a boat adrift off the island’s southeastern coast, police said on Thursday.
They brought the Syrians ashore in the Cape Greco region after their vessel was sighted six nautical miles (11 km) off the east Mediterranean island.
The boat was spotted on Wednesday and the migrants –- including 20 children, 14 of them unaccompanied minors, and three women — were taken to a reception centre outside the capital Nicosia.
The migrants told police they had crossed the Syria-Turkey border and the boat sailed from Mersin in Turkey, a route previously used by people smugglers.
Those on board said they had paid $4,000 each for the journey to the smugglers, who managed to get away.
In August, Cyprus requested that fellow European Union member states take in 5,000 of its migrants to alleviate the “disproportionate pressures” it faced.
The small EU member says it is on the front line of the Mediterranean migration route.
Available data shows the number of migrants arriving in Cyprus and applying for asylum between January and June 2019 reached nearly 7,000.
The backlog of applications has increased to 15,000.
Cyprus, which is 160 km from the Syrian coast, has not seen the massive inflow of migrants experienced by Turkey and Greece.