Cyprus's foreign minister says the country will take in "a substantial number" of asylum-seekers from among 115 people who arrived by boat last month at a British air base on the east Mediterranean island.
Ioannis Kasoulides said after talks with his British counterpart Philip Hammond on Thursday that the transfer of the migrants from accommodation on a British base to a Cypriot housing facility may be completed within the day. He said Cyprus would work with British base authorities to deport any remaining migrants who would have their asylum claim rejected for posing "some kind of security risk."
Hammond said those facing deportation will be returned to "their country of origin" and repeated that the bases are "not a back door" to migration into the UK.
The migrants, mostly Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians, had set sail from Lebanon aboard two fishing boats and had intended to go to Greece.
Bases spokesman Kristian Gray told the Associated Press that a "majority" of the migrants have claimed asylum. He said 13 have indicated they would return to Lebanon voluntarily while some who haven't declared their intentions are being considered for deportation.
An official told the AP earlier this week that Cypriot authorities won't consider the asylum applications of at least six individuals for security reasons. The official had spoken on condition of anonymity because hes not authorized to publicly discuss security matters.