25 May 2017

Government loses appeal after refusing to resettle stranded Cyprus refugees

Appeal judges have ruled Theresa May acted unlawfully in refusing to resettle six refugee families who’ve been stranded on a British military base in Cyprus for the past 19 years.

Lord Justice Irwin declared their living conditions as unacceptable and ordered the Home Secretary to allow the families to enter the UK as soon as possible.

Credit: Tommy Chavannes

(Credit: Tommy Chavannes)

He said it would be “unreasonable” and “a failure of obligations” if resettlement did not happen quickly.

The families were washed ashore from a sinking fishing boat in the Mediterranean in 1998 and detained in disused asbestos ridden accommodation on the British overseas territory of Dhekelia.

Credit: Tommy Chavannes

(Credit: Tommy Chavannes)

They have been there ever since while the Government refused to allow them entry to the UK.

It has argued its obligations under the Refugee Convention did not apply to this overseas territory.

Efforts by UNHCR to broker a deal failed.

Today the Court of Appeal ordered the Home Secretary to reconsider saying under international the UK owes direct obligations to the families which include 19 children.

Their lawyer Tessa Gregory said “our clients have been in legal limbo for 18 years living in wholly unacceptable conditions. They have suffered enough. Now is the time for the Government to show compassion.”

Home Office is to “carefully consider” the implications of the ruling and whether it will appeal to the Supreme Court.