Syrian refugees who were picked up by the Coast Guard on Wednesday are to be returned to Turkey, despite the fact that they have asked to be allowed to remain in Cyprus.
They were discovered in a boat which had run into trouble offshore Yeşilırmak in Güzelyurt Bay having set off from Taşucu, Mersin.
The men aged between 20-40 including two sixteen-year-old boys are only being fed from donations made by the Ghetto Restaurant, local municipalities and trades unions.
As North Cyprus has no legal arrangements with the international community to give shelter to refugees, they are essentially treated like criminals and deported.
The Turkish Cypriot Teachers’ Union (KTÖS) pointed out that the 34 young refugees, two of whom are only 16 years old, are still being held at Güzelyurt Police Station and are being prosecuted.
KTÖS noted that, in the context of refugee rights and human trafficking in the northern part of Cyprus, no arrangements have been made in line with the framework drafted by the International Human Rights Law. KTÖS emphasised that refugees are deprived of health, food and even water.
In the statement, it was underlined that these refugees, who had to leave their country hoping for a better life, were treated to a “humanitarian nightmare”. The union pointed out that if they had arrived in the south, they would have not been arrested but taken to a refugee camp.
The captain of the boat is to be detained for seven days.
The refugees will all be returned to Mersin on Sunday.
Meanwhile, ‘Kibris’ reports that a further 13 refugees, one Lebanese and 12 Syrians who were abandoned by the skipper of the boat they had used to leave Lebanon, have been detained for three days in Famagusta. The men said they were at sea for five days and thought that they would be drowned in rough seas. They said they were headed for South Cyprus but the boat’s engine failed. The skipper deployed a small lifecraft and left them to their fate.
The men will be detained for three days while deportation arrangements are made.
Yeni Duzen, Kibris