AN Akel delegation found a number of problems at Kofinou refugee reception centre on Friday, among them a shortage of staff and problems with the drainage system.
The delegation consisted of three persons – Marina Koukou, Akel’s Head of the Office on Migration Policy and MPs Skevi Koukouma and Evanthia Savva.
“It is not a problem of today because there has been a lot of rain recently. It is a problem that we saw two years ago,” Koukouma said, talking about the blocked drains.
Other problems are the lack of access to a psychologist and psychiatrist for the large number of people at the centre. As well, in 2016 a nurse was available 24/7 while now the nurse is only around from 7am to 1pm five times a week.
“There are general problems with cleanliness and maintenance, we have found that there are a number of women who come from countries with different cultures and there are some issues with violence where women are concerned and they need more support from medical staff, psychologists and others to help them cope,” Koukouma added.
The Akel MP made particular reference to the issue of female genital mutilation to which women are subjected in certain countries and noted that “there may be women who are pregnant and experiencing this issue, so we need someone more specialised.”
She noted that 95 per cent of the centre’s operating costs are covered by EU funds and this money can be better utilised to improve the living conditions of the people in the centre.
Referring to recent clashes of Greek Cypriot youngster with refugees at the Lefkara high school, she noted that “it seems that after these incidents, students whose families live here were not allowed to return to school. For students in the centre there is a teacher who, however, cannot accommodate them all. This is a general issue that should be addressed by the ministry of education.”
Asked if there was a problem with drugs, she replied that the visitors were not informed about this being an issue.
Koukouma concluded that existing government services should deal with the problems which are very real and not exaggerated.
The centre’s capacity is 400 people, and at the moment around 330 live there.