By ANIL IŞIK
FIFTY-one Syrian refugees were shipped to Turkey in a passenger ferry despite Health Ministry pleas calls to hold off on their deportation for 12 hours after the refugees – including an eight-months-pregnant woman and four children – were diagnosed with scabies, Cyprus Today can reveal.
Ministers' decision to send the refugees on Tuesday night was announced that afternoon by government spokesman Kudret Özersay, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
The group had been held at Ercan airport after arriving in the TRNC on various flights since ministers agreed on June 21 to add Syria to a list of countries whose citizens must have entry visas.
The move aimed to curb a rising tide of refugees fleeing to South Cyprus via the North, Dr Özersay said, and had resulted in “a considerable drop” in numbers.
He said they had agreed with Turkey’s Migration Management Department to send the 51 to Turkey “to overcome the difficulties they have gone through at the airport and to enjoy more humane conditions”.
However Nesil Bayraktar, a contagious diseases and clinical microbiology specialist at Lefkoşa State Hospital who was assigned to check the refugees' health, told Cyprus Today: “The health minister and his experts asked ministers for postponement of the Cabinet decision for 12 hours to allow the refugees to take the medication they needed after they were diagnosed.”
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