Cyprus has been granted 74.9 million euros (82.7 million U.S. dollars) in European Commission (EC) funding for handling migration programs, according to an EC document made available here on Tuesday.
The grant is part of a 2.4-billion-euro fund to be distributed for the 2014-2020 period to countries which are facing a crisis because of the influx of migrants, mostly from war-torn regions.
The bulk of the money will be allocated to Italy, which will receive 560 million euros and to Greece, which will be granted 473 million euros. Both countries are faced with a continuous stream of migrants trying to enter Europe.
The money allocated to Cyprus will be used for improving asylum and integration procedures and strengthening security measures.
Cyprus is the most southeastern part of the European Union and in past years has been a refuge for tens of thousands of migrants seeking a better life. But unlike Italy and Greece which are used by migrants as an entry point to EU, Cyprus was the final destination for most migrants in search of security and work.
The number of undocumented migrants in Cyprus had been estimated at about 100,000 in the past. But since the 2013 economic crisis, the number of migrants arriving in Cyprus has dropped dramatically.
Most migrants arrive in Cyprus through the Turkish-controlled northern part of the eastern Mediterranean island. They travel either by sea or by air to the northern part of Cyprus island and then cross illegally into the region controlled by the Cypriot government. In most cases, they are aided by groups engaged in moving people over the inadequately guarded and supervised ceasefire line which runs for about 186 km.
The EC document said Cyprus would receive 32.3 million euros under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and 42.6 million euros under the Internal Security Fund.
The EU document noted that "Cyprus focuses strongly on improving the quality and speed of asylum procedures, increasing and improving the quality of the reception and accommodation capacities and providing assistance to applicants for international protection".
In addition, it said, Cyprus "will mainly support pre-departure measures as well as preparatory actions facilitating access of third-country nationals to the labor market".
As for the security aspect of the funding, the document said Cyprus would implement border management and enhance its operational capacity for fighting against terrorism and effectively managing security-related risks and crises.
"It will also support the Schengen Information System II/SIRENE, increase the capacity for border surveillance and implement the Smart Borders package," said the document drafted by Greek Migration Commissioner Demetris Avramopoulos.
It said EU member states faced unprecedented challenges in the fields of migration and security and the Commission is taking action in a spirit of solidarity.