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Bill for migrants at UK Cyprus base reaches £1m

Published 20/01/2016

Soldiers speaking to some of the migrants that were on four boats that landed at the RAF air base at Akrotiri in Cyprus
Soldiers speaking to some of the migrants that were on four boats that landed at the RAF air base at Akrotiri in Cyprus

More than £1 million has been spent in three months on migrants who landed on a UK military base in Cyprus, new figures show.

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

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

The UK Government reached an agreement 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: "T he 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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