Refugee disturbances at UK Cyprus base

Refugees being detained on British base in Cyprus have protested against their condition at site

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Refugee tent at Dhekelia Garrison, British military base on east Mediterranean island of Cyprus.

Refugees held in a British military base on Cyprus last month, have called on UK Prime Minister David Cameron for help to let them into Britain.

The 114 people from Lebanon and Syria were rescued after broke down in southern coast in October.

They plead for their release from Dhekelia, in Cyprus where they are being held in detention by authorities. They also have been taken the option of either claiming refugee status in Cyprus or being sent back to their home countries.

“I am 12 years old. We are sitting here in the tents and we are cold and we are not allowed to go out from the tents ... Please help us,” said one child.

Another woman, in an audio message, said: “My name is Manar from Syria, I am a 27-year-old woman. We came here by mistake to escape the war. We spent three days at sea and were close to death ... They count us every day as if we were in prison … We can’t stand it any more.”

On Saturday, unknown members of the group set some of the tents on fire.

Cyprus has accepted to process the asylum claims of the refugees who arrived at the base, despite the suggestions of they are Britain’s responsibility.

Britain has said it will keep the refugees on their base, “A series of incidents at the temporary accommodation facility in Cyprus. Those staying there have access to three meals a day, shelter, privacy and communications, which United Nations staff have visited and say exceeds the standard of comparable set-ups,” Cyprus spokesman said.

Cyprus has declined to say how many of the groups have so far claimed asylum.

The island’s economic condition and isolation from the mainland shows that it hasn’t been a popular destination for the refugees crossing the Mediterranean this summer.

“Those who have been moved include a number who have claimed asylum, as well as those deemed to be vulnerable’’, Cyprus Ministry of Defence spokesman said.

TRTWorld and agencies