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MPs say conditions at asylum centre are inadequate.

MPs on Monday called on the government to step up and improve conditions at the reception centre for asylum seekers at Kofinou in Larnaca.

Members of the House human rights committee, accompanied by the interior ministry permanent secretary, Kypros Kyprianou, Children's Rights Commissioner, Leda Koursoumba, the community leader of Kofinou, Despo Charalambous, and members of the United Nations refugee agencyUNHCRinCyprus, visited the reception centre to inspect conditions and monitor any progress since their last visit in the summer.

According to the head of the committee, Stella Kyriakides, there are still serious problems concerning the living conditions of residents and operation of the centre.

"We unfortunately witnessed there is no nurse, no doctor and not a social worker on a permanent basis," Kyriakides said.

The problems at the reception centre will be discussed by the committee in March, she said, while the management of the centre will be discussed by the cabinet next week.

"There will be a permanent administrative officer, a permanent group of services, such as plumbers and others to do necessary repairs, and a process is already underway for changing food distribution," Kyriakides said.

The permanent secretary of the interior ministry informed MPs of recent programming changes at the centre.

Kyriakides said the allowances given to the asylum seekers to help them move out of the centre and integrate rather than remaining there for years was another issue that needed to be addressed.

The centre, she said, should be a temporary reception space whose capacity is for a smaller number of people.

"Unfortunately, just as in other European countries, it hosts more people for longer periods of time, while some people live here almost permanently," she said.

Koursoumba said that the problems children face at the centre are still not resolved. She said that in her report last year she had mentioned that there were no suitable conditions for children, no proper diet, and one child needed bottled water in large quantities and did not have it.

"We hope that slowly these problems will be resolved," she said.

The commissioner said that she will give some time to the interior ministry to deliver on its promises.

The UNHCRhad said last December that most asylum-seekers are severely materially deprived because of the low level of social assistance they receive, and called on the government to review its policies.

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Geographic Code:4EXCY
Date:Feb 26, 2018
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