By Evie Andreou
THE Syrian refugees who were rescued off the coast of Cyprus in September and are temporarily housed at the Kokkinotrimithia reception centre, need to urgently make arrangements for their stay in the country, since the camp will close down in a few days, the Interior ministry announced yesterday.
Of the 337 people who were on the boat en route to Italy and were transferred after their rescue to Kokkinotrimithia, the majority still remain in the reception centre.
“So far, 36 refugees asked for political asylum and 144 people applied for temporary residence permits with access to the labour market, which have been granted,” the announcement said.
Nine people have secured visas to travel to Brazil, two will reunite with their family in Germany, and seven have already left the country.
“As it was clear from the refugees’ statements early on, Cyprus was not their destination,” the announcement said.
It added that they were repeatedly informed of their rights to apply for asylum and for the procedures provided by the Dublin Regulation and for their right to family reunification.
“Furthermore, they were informed in writing that they were granted a three-month residence permit in order to decide whether to apply for asylum or temporary residence permit,” the announcement said.
It added that the ‘reflection period’ expired at the end of December and until then their stay in the country should have been arranged with some legal way.
Early in December, several refugees were deceived by a man who was on the same boat as them and had paid him €4,000 after he claimed he could help them leave the island and transfer them to mainland Europe.
This incident, along with the death of a 25-year-old man from the camp who was found hanged a day after Christmas in a park near the presidential palace, brought many refugees at their breaking point and several of them gathered outside the House two weeks ago asking for a solution to their status since they felt they were stuck in limbo.