x

Society

After 20-Year Wait on Cyprus, Refugee Sees “Bright Future” in UK

December 5, 2018

DHEKELIA, Cyprus (AP) — Nine-year-old Miles imagines himself a Manchester United player as he kicks a ball down Clarendon Road, a lonely street in a corner of this British military base on Cyprus that’s been his home all his life.

The boy’s family and 26 other refugees have been living in a legal limbo limbo at Dekhelia Garrison for two decades. But now that the British government has granted the group permanent residency, he may just get a chance to play for his favorite team for real.

Miles, his younger sister Destiny and older brother Emmanuel are the Cyprus-born children of Sudanese refugee Tag Bashir, who was ecstatic about a “brighter future” for his family in the U.K.

“We feel very, very happy after the long-standing problems … we’re trying to be in the U.K. as soon as we can so that we can establish our life and see how we can start our future for those kids,” Bashir told The Associated Press Tuesday.

Bashir was among a group of 75 people from Ethiopia, Iraq, Sudan and Syria whose fishing boat landed on the shores of RAF Akrotiri on this tiny, east Mediterranean island nation in October 1998. They had set sail from Lebanon to Italy, but people traffickers instead abandoned them in Cyprus.

Bashir said that over time the group dwindled to 31 as many either moved on to other European countries or returned to their country of origin.

But the remaining refugees never lost sight of their goal. For years, they waged a legal battle to get British authorities to allow them to reach the U.K. Britain had refused, saying that the Refugee Convention was never extended to the two military bases that it retained after Cyprus gained independence from British colonial rule in 1960.

The court battle moved from Cyprus to the U.K. where the group was represented by law firm Leigh Day. But just before a Supreme Court hearing that was scheduled for late last month, the British government decided to settle the case and grant the six families permanent residency “due to the highly unusual circumstances.”

The 46 year-old construction worker who fled Sudan’s civil war said that “anywhere in the U.K. is a better place” than Dhekelia’s dilapidated, corrugated iron houses, slated for demolition years ago. He said a life in the U.K. will afford his children — and the 14 other kids affected by the decision — chances at a much better life.

“The one thing that we need for them is to integrate in a society, to go to a place much wider, to see much different things,” Bashir said.

Bashir doesn’t believe that the decision could set a precedent for other refugees reaching the British bases because the “unique” decision to grant them residency was “made on a special basis.”


By MENELAOS HADJICOSTIS , Associated Press

RELATED

It was a close brush with death but a 40-year-old British tourist bitten by a deadly viper while at a yoga retreat on Cyprus is recovering after getting swift hospitalization to counteract the venom.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

Russian Missiles Slam into a Ukraine City and Kill 13 People as the War Approaches a Critical Stage

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Three Russian missiles slammed into a downtown area of the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv on Wednesday, hitting an eight-floor apartment building and killing at least 13 people, authorities said.

TORONTO - Toronto Raptors player Jontay Porter was banned for life from the NBA on Wednesday after a league probe found he disclosed confidential information to sports bettors and wagered on games, even betting on the Raptors to lose.

JERUSALEM  — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday his country would be the one to decide whether and how to respond to Iran’s major air assault earlier this week, brushing off calls for restraint from close allies.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Wednesday he strongly supports a proposal from Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson to provide aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, sending crucial bipartisan support to the precarious effort to approve $95 billion in funding for the U.

BRUSSELS - European Union leaders over a two-day summit of the special European Council will discuss economic and competitiveness issues in Ukraine, Türkiye, the Middle East and Lebanon, stated Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis upon his arrival in Brussels on Wednesday night.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.