Friday, April 15, 2016

Britain has spent more than £1MILLION on an emergency camp for migrants who made it to an RAF base on Cyprus

  • The group of 115 had set out to sail to Greece but ended up on the base
  • RAF bases abroad are sovereign territory and ministers do not want the base on Cyprus to become a new route into Britain
  • Migrants who did the same in 1998 are still there today amid stalemate
  • Labour warned it was 'completely inappropriate' to house refugees on base
More than £1million has been spent looking after migrants who landed at an RAF base in Cyprus three months ago, it emerged today.

Boats containing 115 Greece-bound people - 67 men, 19 women and 29 children - arrived on the shores of RAF Akrotiri on October 21.

Ministers have refused to resettle the group to Britain in case it creates a new migrant route into Britain. 

Figures released by the Ministry of Defence last month said one of the group had been imprisoned, 60 had moved in Cypriot communities and 54 were still on the base.

Some of the 115 migrants, some of whom were pictured through a fence shortly after their arrival October, are still on the RAF base 
Some of the 115 migrants, some of whom were pictured through a fence shortly after their arrival October, are still on the RAF base 

Those still there have been housed in a 'transit facility' outside the military garrison.

Defence Minister Penny Mordaunt told MPs that the emergency response, security, construction of a temporary camp and support costs have so far amounted to £1,122,972.

But shadow defence secretary Emily Thornberry said: 'It is completely inappropriate for a military base to be used as refugee camp.

'This is a question of leadership.

'We need a serious strategy for dealing with the refugee crisis, but these figures suggest that the Government is more interested in throwing money at the problem than in coming up with a genuine solution.'

The UK Government reached an agreement  with Cyprus to ensure asylum claims of the travellers, mostly Syrians and Palestinians from refugee camps in Syria and elsewhere, would be dealt with by the Cypriot authorities.

Food, water and bedding was provided by military personnel in the immediate aftermath.
There were disturbances at the temporary camp at RAF Dhekelia and the migrants were given a week to decide whether to seek asylum in Cyprus - a member state of the European Union - or be deported.

Ms Mordaunt also said the travellers at the camp in Dhekelia have 'regular access to medical, dental and other health facilities as required' while Cyprus has recently started to offer education for children and adults.

Further figures suggest around £2 million has been spent on welfare and education for a group of migrants whose boat was brought ashore to British territory on Cyprus in 1998.

Labour's Tulip Siddiq, in a written question, asked about the cost to British taxpayers of housing and supporting migrants who arrived in October 1998 and October 2015 in the RAF Dhekelia and RAF Akrotiri sovereign base areas.

Ms Mordaunt replied: 'The total recorded cost to date to the public purse for housing and supporting the migrants who arrived onto sovereign base areas administration land on October 21, 2015, is £1,122,972.

'This includes the initial emergency response, security costs, construction of the transit facility and ongoing support costs.

'Those costs which relate to the support and welfare of the migrants will be counted against the Government's targets for overseas aid.

'An element of this total includes estimated costs that are to be paid in arrears.'

Ms Mordaunt also said: 'It is not possible to provide an exact sum spent in total on the migrants who arrived in 1998.

'The costs of the provision of welfare and education, based on recent data, is around 165,000 euros (£127,000) per year.' 

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