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Rusting boats in Pyrgos a legacy of people smuggling

The rusting, listing Nedim Kaptan is still docked at Kato Pyrgos harbour

A rusting passenger vessel called Nedim Kaptan docked at the harbour of Kato Pyrgos since last November when it was towed by Cypriot authorities with some 170 mostly Syrian refugees onboard, has become a bit of an attraction, but not a very pleasant one for the local community.

It is one of four vessels used for carrying refugees and migrants over the past 18 months that have remained docked in the harbour.

The sign explaining the presence of the boats that has since been removed

The four vessels are stuck in the harbour as evidence until the prosecutions of the suspected people smugglers who brought the refugees over are finished. After that, the government will auction them off.

But the bad shape of the largest of them, ‘Nedim Kaptan’, and its long stay at the harbour had angered the Kato Pyrgos community council which posted a sign explaining why the vessel was there and apologising for the unsightly scene.

The boat, the sign said, carried migrants from Turkey and had been confiscated by the Republic of Cyprus on November 3, 2017.

“It has since been abandoned here and despite the actions of the community council, police and the justice ministry refuse to remove it because it is ‘evidence’,” the sign explained. It also apologised for its “ugliness”.

The sign was recently removed after authorities reassured the town that all vessels would soon be auctioned off.

“It was an ugly situation, but we’re confident that it’ll be over soon when the boats are auctioned off, maybe even in a matter of days,” Kato Pyrgos community leader Nicos Kleanthous told the Sunday Mail this week.

The boat Nedim Kaptan had arrived in Kato Pyrgos last November carrying 174 men, women and children – including a two-day-old infant – from Antalya, Turkey.

 

In February 2017, 93 refugees had arrived in another boat, while more recently in June 2018, 61 Syrians arrived in an unsafe and overcrowded boat, from which they disembarked, also in Kato Pyrgos.

(Additional reporting Lizzy Ioannidou)

Two of the other boats that were used to smuggle migrants and refugees into Cyprus

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