09:28 GMT18 May 2021
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    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)

    Refugees held on a British Royal Air Force base on the island of Cyprus are pleading with Prime Minister David Cameron to grant them asylum in the UK and show "humanity", saying their captivity is like Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

    Speaking through the fence, one asylum seeker told The Times: "We are in his [David Cameron's] hands." Ibrahim Maarouf, who is living in the camp with his wife and two young children said:

    "If he's a real human, so are we. He's afraid if we go to the UK, others will too. Don't make a lesson of us…"

    Initially bound for Greece, the boat washed up on Cypriot shores and then on a British military base.

    "We told them [officials] we want to go to England, but they told us 'no'. Now we're in a British prison."

    As Maarouf spoke through the barbed wire fence, the reporter heard other asylum seekers shouting "Guantanamo".

    The asylum seekers were transported by coach after their boat washed up on the shores of RAF Akrotiri, Britain's biggest army base on Cyprus. Footage has since emerged on the internet showing tents burning and groups protesting next to a high wire fence in the Dheklia camp chanting: "Let us leave" and "We are people not animals."

    Responsibility for the refugees fall to the Cypriot authorities, according to Britain's Ministry of Defense, the MoD has had "an agreement in place with the Republic of Cyprus since 2003 to ensure that the Cypriot authorities take responsibility in circumstances like this."

    Cyprus amended its asylum laws in 2014, restricting those claiming asylum from bringing their family members to the island once they had been granted the right to remain. Isolated from the European Union's approach to processing asylum claims, only three percent were granted refugee status last year. Many migrants and refugees end up living illegally on the streets.

    Twelve out of the 115 refugees and migrants on the island have so far claimed asylum. 

    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)


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    migrant camp, camp, boats, migrant crisis, asylum seekers, Guantanamo Bay, humanitarian crisis, refugees, detention, David Cameron, Europe, Cyprus
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