Group of 143 refugees arrive in Cyprus from Turkey

A group of 143 Syrian refugees arrived in Cyprus in a boat which had sailed from the port of Mersin in southern Turkey, authorities said on Monday.

Cypriot police said the people on the boat, 62 men, 31 women and 50 children, are being processed before being transferred to a refugee center.

This was the largest group of Syrian refugees to arrive in Cyprus from Turkey since the first boatload arrived about two years ago. The refugees said they left Mersin on Saturday afternoon and were at sea for over 34 hours.

The police said they were notified about the arrival of the boat off the northwestern coast of Cyprus early last night but it was spotted after midnight and was towed into a marina at daybreak.

Cypriot authorities usually receive notification by the traffickers themselves who call the Cypriot Search and Rescue Center about the arrival of refugee boats before returning to Turkey by speedboat.

Monday's arrival of Syrian refugees brings their total to more than 400 this year.

The refugees were reported to have told the police that they paid to the traffickers 2,000 U.S. dollars each for a place on the boat.

Syrian refugees arriving in Cyprus usually plan to stay on the eastern Mediterranean island, the closest place to there country, either to wait until they can return to their homes or even make a new home on the island.