COVID Outbreak at Cypriot Refugee Camp, Hundreds Transferred

NICOSIA – Cypriot health officials transferred some 600 migrants from the Pournara camp that had been denounced for absymal conditions after 82 detainees there tested positive for COVID-19.

Cypriot lawmakers had a week earlier gone there and said they were appalled at what they found, criticizing the living conditions as inhumane, finding children cramped into containers, solme without beds, The Cyprus Mail said.

Giorgos Koukoumas, a member of the main opposition party AKEL, said there were some 1,000 persons not having a bed to sleep on. Many have to make do in tents and on the floor, he reported.

Public radio station RIK reported the COVID oubtreak and said those removed were taken to the Limnes facility in Larnaca, that supposed to be serving as an isolation war only.

It was originally constructed to host migrants about to be deported after their applications were rejected. However it has been mostly empty since its completition a few months ago, the newspaper said.

Health authorities said they continued testing in the Pournara camp which was designed as a registration camp with a capacity for up to 1,000 people but has been holding around 2,500, many in tents outside the camp.

Cypriot lawmakers alled for a faster processing of asylum claims and better access to education and integration measures and that they were told of drug trafficking and prostitution going on.

In a letter to the Cypriot interior ministry in March, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, urged the Cypriot authorities to bring the reception conditions “in line with applicable human rights standards and ensure that asylum seekers and migrants enjoy effective access to all necessary services,” said InfoMigrants.

The site, citing European Union statistics, said that Cyprus received the largest number of asylum applications in the EU in 2020, in relation to the size of its population.

The numbers have jumped in 2021 with the government reporting in October there had been a 38 percent increase by that time over the previous year when the COVID-19 pandemic then broke out.


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