Migrant support group KISA has denounced the UK for what it called the violation of the rights of the 114 rescued refugees and migrants currently on the British bases.
“KISA calls on the UK to respect both the Memorandum of Understanding of 2003 and its international obligations, ensuring the rights of the refugees who arrived last week in the SBA (Sovereign Bases Area) as well as those of other refugees who followed a similar route in the past,” the organisation said in a statement.
“Furthermore, if the refugees wish to apply for asylum then the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus should ensure the unhindered access of refugees to their rights and at the same time, Great Britain should pay compensation to the Republic of Cyprus, while assuming responsibility for their relocation,” it added.
Since Wednesday, October 21, when the refugees and migrants landed their two make-shift boats at Lady’s Mile, within the bases’ territory at Akrotiri, a heated debate on who was responsible for them began due to differing interpretations of the 2003 agreement between Cyprus and the UK.
KISA states that the UK has the legal responsibility.
It said the MoU signed between Cyprus and the UK, laid out the steps that should be followed from the beginning on the part of the bases.
The MoU, it said, stipulates that the UK has the legal responsibility for the refugees who arrive in the territory of the bases, but due to their lack of the necessary infrastructure in order to handle such cases, Cyprus was to undertake the examination of asylum applications, the provision of reception conditions such as healthcare and social benefits, and be compensated by the UK.
“This Memorandum also states clearly that in all cases the UK has the ultimate responsibility for those who are recognised as beneficiaries of international protection and it is also responsible for their relocation,” the NGO said.
KISA further condemned the fact that the bases had not yet approved the access of humanitarian and other non-governmental organisations to the area where the refugees and migrants are located.
“Besides the humanitarian dimension of the issue, the policy of the SBA conflicts with the right of the refugees to seek legal and other advice.”
On Tuesday the group were taken from Akrotiti base to the base at Dhekelia.