Cyprus Mail

More refugees moved to temporary camp

By Andria Kades

Another three people were taken to the Kokkinotrimithia temporary camp on Thursday from the group of 26 that were rescued off the coast of Famagusta earlier this week, civil defence spokeswoman Olivia Michaelides said.

This brings the total number of individuals from the particular group now at the camp to 10.

Seven were taken to Kokkinotrimithia on Wednesday while on Thursday two children, that were discharged from Larnaca general hospital, and their mother joined the others.

As of now, all the other children remain in the Larnaca and Famagusta general hospitals while one is still in Makarios children’s hospital in Nicosia. Most are under their mothers’ supervision while their health is improving, Michaelides told the Cyprus Mail.

In Larnaca, five children are being treated for hypothermia and dehydration, an on-duty doctor at the paediatric ward told Cyprus News Agency. They are expected to be discharged within the next few days.

Two mothers were also being treated at the same hospital however one was transferred to Famagusta hospital where one of her children is.

“The general condition of the five children and the one mother who are being treated for hypothermia and dehydration is very good. Two of the total of seven children that were being treated have been discharged while the rest will follow within the next few days.”

Meanwhile Dherynia municipality is calling for urgent donations, which can be handed until Saturday at the municipality’s social welfare office opposite the police station on Famagusta Avenue, 52 between 9am-10am and 4pm-7pm.

“There is an urgent need for bottled water, powder milk for babies from four months to four years old, long-life milk, diapers and dry food like biscuits, cereals and more,” the announcement said.

The items will be collected until Saturday.

Dherynia municipality also held a round table discussion as to how various migrants from all walks of life could better integrate and how some of the problems they face – such as being exploited at work and being underpaid – could be resolved.

A total of 26 individuals were rescued from after the search and rescue centre had received a distress call at around 4.35pm on Tuesday and it immediately dispatched a helicopter to the area.

The vessel was spotted six nautical miles east of Cape Greco near Protaras. A National Guard helicopter and patrol boats joined marine police in the rescue operation.

The civil defence was informed at 8pm. The first rescuers on the scene saw a half-sunk boat and one person in the sea.

There were 13 children, including babies, nine men and four women on board.

Helicopter captain, Mirianthis Christofides involved in the rescue told the Cyprus News Agency: “We had a lot of children to save something that happened for the first time with such a large number. Saving these small children, you could perhaps be gifting them their future.” Strong winds, limited vision due to the darkness of the hour, rough seas and the fact the boat was very small made everything very difficult, he said.

The third helicopter Achilleas, which Christofides was captaining, managed to save one child and one adult before technical problems caused them to return to base.  Other helicopters were put on alert while marine police and navy ships were at the scene.

The boat had sailed from Lebanon last Friday with the passengers thought to be Syrian and Lebanese. A German navy vessel carried out a search in the area in case there were more people in the sea, but did not find anything. The operation was completed just after 1am.

Police arrested three men, aged 48, 35 and 30, in connection with people smuggling after they were named by the others as being the captain, his assistant, and the money collector. Police confirmed at least one of the men was Syrian. Conflicting reports said all three were from Syria while others said two were Syrian and the third Lebanese.

Passengers said the head of the operation was with them initially but abandoned them half way into the trip using an inflatable boat.

The three men were later remanded in custody for eight days.

The court heard that the migrants paid $2,000 (€1,800) each for every adult and $1,000 for each child.

Police said the 35-year-old collector was the person who contacted a friend in Cyprus and asked him to notify the authorities that they were “drowning.”

The boat’s destination was Greece but it ran out of fuel on Saturday.

Police said the 35-year-old is suspected of being a member of a people smuggling gang operating in Cyprus. The two other suspects are thought to be part of the same gang, the court heard.

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