Nicosia.- By Antonios Gkildakis/CNA
Syrian refugees who were rescued last Thursday off Cyprus` southern coast are expected to be transferred to the Kofinou Reception Center next Tuesday, after the conclusion of medical examinations.
The refugees are being hosted temporarily at a special shelter in Kokkinotrimithia, close to Cyprus` capital, Nicosia.
On Saturday morning a broad meeting took place in the shelter, in the presence of Health Minister Philippos Patsalis, Justice Minister and deputy Interior Minister Ionas Nicolaou and officials from the police, the Civil Defence, the Red Cross and other government departments and services.
According to the two Ministers, the meeting examined humanitarian aspects, the provision of medical care and ways to improve living conditions for the refugees.
Patsalis stated after the meeting that refugees were undergoing medical examinations for a second time, which are expected to be concluded by the end of the day. They received the polio vaccine and were checked for hepatitis B and C, AIDS and other contagious diseases.
The results of these examinations are expected by Monday to provide adequate healthcare, the Minister said, adding that some cases are already being treated in Nicosia hospitals.
Medical personnel will remain in the shelter to provide first aid, psychological support or other services, if needed, while the Ministry of Health has already ordered for the necessary medication to be provided once the results are out.
Justice Minister and Deputy Interior Minister Ionas Nicolaou noted from his part that refugees will remain in the shelter in Kokkinotrimithia until Tuesday, and once medical examinations are concluded, they will be transferred to the Kofinou Reception Center, which has better facilities.
The Minister also said that Cyprus` authorities will proceed with briefing refugees on their rights and each case will be examined separately.
Nicolaou said that the Republic has some international obligations in cases like this and authorities are ready to respond to these obligations. “The Ministry of Interior and the competent authority will explain to the refugees today all their rights and the options they retain, so as to start next week with the examination of each case separately” said Nicolaou.
He noted finally that minor problems, including the communication of refugees with their families, will be solved soon.
The 345 refugees fled from war-torn Syria aboard an unseaworthy fishing boat that sent a distress signal as it was caught in rough seas 55 nautical miles south of the coastal city of Paphos, on Thursday. All refugees were rescued aboard a cruise ship, in an operation coordinated by the Republic`s competent authorities and were transferred to the special shelter in Kokkinotrimithia on Friday.