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“The police returned asylum seekers back to the Dead Zone”: Serious concerns are expressed by the…

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“According to the latest reports, at least two of these people, including an unaccompanied child from Syria, are missing, while many are in need of medical and psychological care'

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a statement expresses deep concern for the safety and well-being of approximately 31 asylum seekers, including seven children, who it says are trapped in the Dead Zone.

Five of them entered the Pournara First Reception Center to apply for asylum after crossing the Dead Zone, but reportedly “the police later removed the applicants in question from the center and returned them” to the Dead Zone.< /p>

“According to the latest reports, at least two of these people, including an unaccompanied Syrian child, are missing, while many are in need of medical and psychological care,” the UN refugee agency claims.

He adds that although food, water, clothing and basic facilities are provided to the people in the Dead Zone, through the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, they live in precarious conditions , in tents exposed to extreme temperatures that have exceeded 40 degrees Celsius in recent days. He notes that the Republic of Cyprus provides emergency medical treatment at the state hospital, however after treatment they are returned to the Dead Zone.

“This situation is unacceptable. As we have emphasized in contacts with the Government of the Republic of Cyprus and as the European Commission has reiterated, the Republic of Cyprus must implement and enforce all aspects of the EU acquis, including ensuring effective access to asylum procedures and adequate reception conditions” he said Philippe Leclerc, Regional Director for Europe of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The announcement also states that European legislation applies in all areas of Cyprus where the Government of the Republic of Cyprus can apply the its legislation, including the UN Dead Zone.

He adds that this incident comes amid a series of actions that are effectively shrinking Cyprus' protection area, such as “the application of alarming new measures to Syrian refugees and asylum seekers”, such as the suspension of the examination of their asylum applications which has been in force since the middle of April. This measure, it is reported, has affected more than 14,000 Syrian asylum seekers.

UNHCR also reports “resumption of arrests, sometimes with the use of force, of asylum seekers attempting to submit subsequent asylum applications in order to undergo return procedures”.

Additionally, it is reported that in recent months, there have been multiple reports of “interception and informal pushbacks of boats carrying asylum seekers trying to reach Cypriot shores”.

“The interceptions and informal refoulements at sea as well as the refusal to refer those trapped in the Dead Zone to asylum procedures result in the risk of immediate or chain refoulement for the affected people,” it added.

The UNHCR added. UNHCR says it recognizes the challenges Cyprus faces in terms of new arrivals and stands ready to provide additional support to ensure that the fundamental human rights of asylum seekers and refugees are respected.

“We are committed to working with the government and other stakeholders to find sustainable solutions that support our shared responsibility to protect those fleeing conflict and persecution,” Leclerc said.

At the same time, he noted that here and have long stated that Cyprus, as well as other states on the EU's external borders, should not be left alone and that continued EU resources, solidarity and responsibility-sharing are needed to strengthen the Republic of Cyprus's ability to respond.

Source: politis.com.cy

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