Cypriot Intelligence Service Head Holds Talks in Beirut on Illegal Migration

Prime Minister Najib Mikati and meets with head of the Cypriot Intelligence Service Tasos Tzionis in Beirut. (Prime Minister’s office)
Prime Minister Najib Mikati and meets with head of the Cypriot Intelligence Service Tasos Tzionis in Beirut. (Prime Minister’s office)
TT

Cypriot Intelligence Service Head Holds Talks in Beirut on Illegal Migration

Prime Minister Najib Mikati and meets with head of the Cypriot Intelligence Service Tasos Tzionis in Beirut. (Prime Minister’s office)
Prime Minister Najib Mikati and meets with head of the Cypriot Intelligence Service Tasos Tzionis in Beirut. (Prime Minister’s office)

Tasos Tzionis, the National Security Advisor and Head of the Cypriot Intelligence Service, arrived in Beirut to address the mounting issue of illegal migration.

Discussions with Lebanese officials focused on strategies to combat the surge in illegal migration operated by networks that make thousands of dollars for their illicit practices.

The Cypriot official held meetings with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib, Deputy Parliament Speaker Elias Bou Saab, Lebanese Army Commander General Joseph Aoun, and Director General of General Security Brigadier General Elias Baissari.

Bou Habib said: "Ninety-five percent of the displaced Syrians migrate for economic reasons, and we must address this issue in cooperation with the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea."

Syrians make up the majority of illegal migrants traveling from Lebanon to Cyprus, which is seen as a gateway to Europe. The issue is major concern for the European Union.

According to the UN Refugee Agency in Lebanon, 59 boats departed from Lebanon, carrying 3,298 Syrians, 76 Lebanese, five Palestinians, and 149 individuals whose nationalities were not identified. Of these boats, 29, transporting 1,558 people, successfully arrived in Cyprus. Three of the boats, carrying 109 people, were later sent back to Lebanon.

The UNHCR highlighted a 7.3% increase in boat departures compared to 2022, but a 23.8% decrease in the number of passengers.

In statements to Asharq Al-Awsat, Justicia President, and lawyer Paul Morcos said Lebanon and Cyprus has signed an agreement on the deportation of illegal residents.

The agreement was approved under Law Number 531/2023, which stipulates that each contracting party shall readmit to its territory, without formalities, any person who does not satisfy or no longer satisfies the conditions of entry or stay applicable in the territory of the requesting contracting party.

He emphasized the legal obligation of Cypriot authorities to afford asylum seekers ample time for defense, objection to deportation decisions, and exploration of alternative destinations.

Morcos referenced humanitarian principles protected under International Humanitarian Law, citing Article 3 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

“No State Party shall expel, return or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”

“For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant, or mass violations of human rights,” the Article reads.

Meanwhile, the Internal Security Forces announced the arrest of a Syrian, 24, identified as the leader of human trafficking network. Confiscated documents revealed his involvement in smuggling Syrians from Syria to Lebanon and then Europe, charging $3,500 per person.



UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
TT

UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)

Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are suffering a drastically worsening human rights environment, alongside "unconscionable death and suffering" in the Gaza Strip, the UN human rights chief said on Tuesday.

"The situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is dramatically deteriorating," Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The West Bank, where the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule under Israeli occupation, has seen the worst unrest for decades, in parallel with the war in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.

Turk said that from the start of the Gaza war in October through mid-June, 528 Palestinians, 133 of them children, had been killed by Israeli security forces or settlers in the West Bank, in some cases raising "serious concerns of unlawful killings".

Twenty-three Israelis have been killed in the West Bank and Israel in clashes with or attacks by Palestinians, he said.

In Gaza, Turk said he was "appalled by the disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law" by parties to the war.

"Israel's relentless strikes in Gaza are causing immense suffering and widespread destruction, and the arbitrary denial and obstruction of humanitarian aid have continued," Turk said.

"Israel continues to detain arbitrarily thousands of Palestinians. This must not continue."

He added that Palestinian armed groups were continuing to hold hostages, including in populated areas, which put both the hostages and civilians at risk.

Israel's permanent mission to the UN in Geneva accused Turk of "completely omitting the cruelty and barbarity of terrorism" in his address to the UN Human Rights Council.

"Hostilities in Gaza are the direct result of Hamas terrorism, decades of rocket-fire and incitement against the Jewish people and the State of Israel, culminating in its brutal attacks against Israel on October 7," the diplomatic mission said in a statement.

Israel's ground and air campaign was triggered when Hamas-led fighters stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's offensive has killed more than 37,400 people in Gaza, according to its health authorities, and left much of the enclave's population homeless.