Cyprus Mail

Refugees at Kokkinotrimithia reception centre go on hunger strike

Refugees at Kokkinotrimithia reception centre in Pournara began a hunger strike on Tuesday to denounce living conditions and overcrowding.

The centre was designed to host asylum seekers for a maximum of 72 hours until health checks are carried out. However, because of the travel restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, it currently hosts around 600 people.

“We want to go out, we are simply too many in the centre,” a refugee told Cyprus Mail.

“The conditions are terrible, some of us have been here for four months, there is no electricity and not enough food for everyone.

“We are facing a very tough life inside the camp and that’s why we took the decision to go on a hunger strike. We want our voices heard and the government to know what’s going on in here.”

Different NGOs have recently criticised the living conditions at the site with the interior minister rubbishing their allegations.

On April 23, however, ombudswoman Maria Stylianou Lottides called on the interior ministry to improve the conditions at the reception centre, which she had inspected earlier in the month to assess living conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the shortcomings in Kokkinotrimithia were tents flooded by recent rains because they lacked proper flooring.

“It is immediately required to expedite completion of the construction works for the expansion and configuration of the centre so that it can become fully operational,” Lottides said in a report following a recent visit to the facility.

Lottides also asked for medical care on a daily basis and not having a doctor visit every other day as is the existing practice. Two nurses were on duty around the clock and special protocols were in place if there was a coronavirus case. So far there have not been any.

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