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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-03-20

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] Illegal immigrants - Hunger strike

  • 1345:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Illegal immigrants - Hunger strike

    Nicosia, Mar 20 (CNA) -- A number of immigrants who arrived in Cyprus on Thursday night on a boat with the Lebanese flag painted on it began a hunger strike today, as officials of the Lebanese Immigration Authority began investigations Saturday regarding their fate.

    The 89 immigrants arrived in Cyprus on Thursday night and the Cyprus authorities, together with the government of Lebanon are in consultations to ascertain those who were living in Lebanon and left the country on that boat.

    A total of 76 adults began a hunger strike this morning, which was reported to have ended at noon.

    The immigrants, 35 of them women and children, from Somalia, Sierra Leone, Palestine, Egypt, Syria and Iraq were transferred from the small boat they arrived on, to a cruiser at Larnaca port, which is under police guard and access to the press is prohibited.

    "We don't know yet where they have embarked from", Lebanese charge d'affaires, Khalil El Habre told CNA, saying that the Cypriot authorities have information that the 89 immigrants embarked on a boat from Tripoli, Lebanon, whereas the Lebanese say after investigation they have found out that some people have been loaded onto the boat out in sea.

    "Some people may be coming from Lebanon, we are investigating that. If it is true, we are ready to" repatriate them, but others came from other countries in boats and boarded the boat at sea, El-Habre said.

    Cyprus and Lebanon have an agreement since January that if any illegal passengers leave Lebanon and it is proved that they were living in Lebanon, then they will be returned to the country.

    The Lebanese diplomat explained it is not easy for people from Sierra Leone, Somalia or Iraq to enter Lebanon. He said the iraqi people claim they went to Lebanon from Turkey and Syria and were then loaded onto the boat, although he said this was doubtful because of the strict controls of the frontiers in Turkey and Syria.

    "I believe they have been loaded illegally by boat, maybe from Turkey, directly onto that boat (at sea)", El Habre said.

    He added that the vessel which has been provided by the Cypriot authorities to temporarily accommodate the immigrants, has all the amenities.

    El-Habre said "we recognise every people coming from Lebanon. If we find they have been living in Lebanon, we will respect that and return them to Lebanon.

    Meanwhile, Larnaca Police chief, Demetrakis Georgiades, said he was optimistic that the whole issue would soon be settled, as cooperation with the Lebanese authorities is good.

    CNA MAN/EC/RG/1999
    Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
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