Statements by the General Secretary of AKEL A.Kyprianou after visiting the “Pournaras” Temporary Reception camp
AKEL C.C. Press Office, 23 June 2020, Nicosia
We as a people were forced to emigrate as well to find a life for our families and to live ourselves. It is precisely for that reason that we need to show more sensitivity than other peoples.
Infrastructure grounds must clearly be improved and in our view priority should be given to building infrastructures. We subsequently need to look at the issues that have to do with nutrition. Some say they are satisfied with the situation, but at the same time numerous complaints are being heard.
What do we consider to be the most important issues?
There are international conventions in place. We, as Cyprus, are obliged to implement these agreements. Regrettably I conclude that not all the conventions are being applied.
I know that the Minister of the Interior will say that these conventions are being implemented. The European Conventions, must also be respected in our view. The other issue, the big issue came to light yesterday during the debate in Parliamentary Committees.
Its not right for unaccompanied minors to be placed together with adults. We do not accept that some of them characterise themselves as minors.
The Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of the Child was very clear in her statements. Namely, that in these cases too we are obliged to view them as minors until proven otherwise. This is our obligation stemming from the relevant international conventions. So my appeal to the Minister of the Interior and the government in general, because the issues are not personal, is to look at these issues with greater sensitivity.
I repeat, we are dealing with people, irrespective of colour and origin. Just as we the Cypriot people turned to others in the past for support, so do refugees have need of our support. All procedures must be speeded up so that within a reasonable period time we can satisfy the various demands and limit whatever problems.
I want to congratulate the people who are working here, on the front lines, because I understand that they are working under very difficult and adverse conditions. We understand that there has been an increase in refugee flows to Cyprus lately.
I would like to clarify that AKEL has never talked about open borders. This is another big issue that DISY is trying to mislead the people. We never supported something like that. What we were saying and are continuing to say is that we must respect human life, we must respect international and European conventions and treaties.
Regarding the probe instructed by the Ministry, I wish and hope that it will be towards carrying out an investigation (Note: reference to a journalist’s question about accusations regarding sexual harassment) because such things are occurring here in Pournaras and not because complaints weren’t made by some promptly. The Ministry of Interior should have known what was going on here. And I am sorry to say that conditions here are insulting the Republic of Cyprus.
Can you give us some examples of the complaints you have heard?
There are many complaints about the food, living conditions and the fact that they are being held for more days than is necessary.
For example, there is a family with 6 children, their father is here (in Cyprus) and they would like to be reunited as a family. Unfortunately there is a delay until the procedures to reunite them are set in motion. I don’t want to go into details, the most important thing is the substance and the essence is that the correct infrastructures must be set up. There must be a correct handling of the issues by respecting as I said previously international treaties because we are dealing with people. And we will support any efforts by the government towards the EU to raise funds so that infrastructures can be built properly. We have agreed with the Minister that he will give us a detailed statement about where the 100 million Euros have been spent which the Republic of Cyprus has received (from the EU) over the last 6 years. We want to see where these funds have been allocated towards.
You recognize however the whole effort that the government is making with the bills before parliament on the management of the immigration issue.
We will study and judge the bills brought before parliament by their content. I think it is too early to say anything about their content. I recognize the Minister’s efforts to act in the short period of time he has been in his post. I repeat that there are still a lot of problems. The situation – I will say just what I feel – is an insult to the Republic of Cyprus. People cannot live in such conditions. I understand that things are difficult, I understand that the time the government had was limited, but priorities should have been set.
On the Minister’s statement on the issue that arose about “alleged minors”
Minors were moved and they were transferred with the women. The move was made over the past few days. You realise if something does need to be investigated, then it is the question of who is responsible for their transfer because when minors are placed with adults you realize the dangers that exist.
The second issue concerns the Dublin agreement, because the Minister has very correctly said that Cyprus, Greece and Malta have been affected the most by the flow of refugees from Syria and Turkey. We have sought to convince in the European Parliament that those refugees who come to Cyprus and say they want to relocate to other European countries, and they themselves declare it, and that it is very easy to address this issue, should be allowed to do so.
The powerful countries of the EU have said no, that they will remain in the host countries until asylum applications are considered, when we have said that this is wrong and if they say they want to go to other European countries, then there should be a provision for each country to host a number of refugees depending on its size and economic capabilities. I regret to say that the MEP’s of the ruling DISY party did not support this position we adopted in the European Parliament
I hope and wish now with the position expressed by the Minister to have their support, so that all EU countries can assume their share of responsibility.