Cyprus Mail

Cyprus can’t take any more asylum seekers says minister

By George Psyllides

CYPRUS cannot sustain any more asylum seekers, Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos said yesterday.

He was speaking at an event held at the EU House focused on the lives of political refugees in Cyprus.

Outside, refugees protested about the conditions they were living in and against, what they claimed to be, the policy aiming to force them to leave the island.

Reports said the group jeered Hasikos.

“I do not think they can attack the interior minister who represents the Republic, which hosts them, looks after their health, education, nutrition and accommodation in general,” Hasikos said. “They must realise that this country has its own problems, which are big and many, especially now with the economic crisis and rampant unemployment.”

The minister said asylum seekers must understand and show consideration.

“Cyprus cannot sustain any more asylum seekers and I wish we manage to handle the ones we have here,” Hasikos said, urging the EU and the UN to provide assistance.

They must first help Cyprus financially so that it would be able to handle the asylum seekers currently on the island.

The EU and the UN must also understand that Cyprus cannot take any more asylum seekers.

“Cyprus continues to be a hospitable country… it honours all international conventions and agreements on human rights, but I repeat, our problems today are serious and we at least want them to respect this,” the minister said.

A statement from migrant support group KISA said the crisis had led the majority of refugees to unemployment, poverty, racist discrimination and social exclusion.

“In their majority, they live in abject destitution and no longer have access to the necessary resources for housing and food,” KISA said.

The United Nations’ refugee agency UNHCR has asked the European Parliament and the European Commission to make mandatory for the state to consult civil society and non-governmental organisations when it comes to programmes relating to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.

UNHCR said that with Cyprus in dire financial straits, authorities must make better use of substantial EU funding available to member states to address the needs of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants across Europe.

One way of making better use of sources of funding available to Cyprus is by consulting CSOs and NGOs, UNHCR said.

The UNHCR has previously said that Cyprus, as an EU member state facing serious financial difficulties, was now entitled to receive 95 per cent of the cost of providing appropriate reception facilities for asylum seekers from EU Refugee Funds. And in its latest Cyprus report, Amnesty International said that authorities continue locking migrants up in poor conditions without considering alternatives.


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