Cypriot emergency services rescued 45 Syrian migrants from two boats after receiving information that they were in distress near a coastal tourist resort, authorities said Friday.
The eastern Mediterranean island’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre said it had brought ashore 29 men, five women and 11 children who had been afloat off Cape Greco on Thursday evening.
Police said they were in good health and had been transferred to a migrant reception centre on the outskirts of the capital Nicosia.
Two people, aged 20 and 18, were arrested on suspicion of navigating the two boats and were scheduled to appear in court on Friday.
European Union member Cyprus says it is on the front line of the bloc’s irregular migration flows, and last year registered the EU’s highest number of first-time asylum applicants per capita.
Those rescued on Thursday evening were 18 irregular migrants on a wooden boat and another 27 aboard an inflatable craft.
Police said they had set off from war-torn Syria before being detected off Cape Greco, near the tourist resort of Aya Napa on the island’s southeast coast.
The rescue operation comes after a boat carrying 37 Syrian migrants was intercepted off Cape Greco and escorted to shore on Wednesday.
Cypriot authorities say there has been a rise in migrants arriving by boat, with a 60 percent increase recorded in the first five months of 2023 compared with last year.
They say most migrants arriving on boats set out from the port of Tartus in Syria, which has been ravaged more than a decade of war, although fighting has subsided since 2020.