20th Sep 2020

Rescued migrants disembark from cruise ship after stand off

  • The conflicts in Syria and Gaza are forcing people to seek asylum in Europe (Photo: Martin Wippel)

Several hundred rescued migrants on a cruise liner in Cyprus have agreed to disembark following a tense stand off with authorities.

“The registration of the refugees is ongoing, all have stepped down from the boat,” a contact at the scene from the United Nations refugee agency, the UNCHR, told this website on Friday (26 September).

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Around 300 rescued migrants - mainly women and children - had refused to leave the cruise liner which on Thursday had rescued them from a trawler stranded in rough seas near the Mediterranean island.

The migrants had wanted to be disembarked in Italy and not at the port in Limassol in Cyprus, its final point of destination.

“They are saying they have family members in other countries and they wanted to proceed to those countries,” said the UNCHR contact.

Most appear to be Palestinians while others are from Syria, she noted.

“They realised that it was not possible to continue to other countries without first staying here and the procedures will continue,” she said.

Salamis Cruise Lines Managing Director Kikis Vasiliou had earlier told reporters the migrants were refusing to leave the ship.

Vasiliou had said it was up to Cypriot authorities to decide what to do and where to take them, noting that the company is losing “several hundred thousand” euros through delays and cancellations.

“We did our outmost to save their lives, to give them food, support and now they want to destroy this company,” he said.

The liner was on its way to the Greek island of Syros to Limassol; when it received a distress call on Thursday some 50 nautical miles from Cyprus.

Cyprus is around 100km from Syria.

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