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Anger, apology and shame
The 150 or so Turkish Cypriots students who arrived on the island from the UK in the early hours of the morning reacted to appalling conditions at a private student dormitory they were to be placed in and refused to stay. They were kept waiting outside the building for hours until the authorities found a solution. The government, due to a lack of communication, was only able to solve the problem hours later, settling the students at the River Side Hotel in Alsancak (Karavas). Deputy Prime Minister Kudret Özersay’s apology to the students and their families for the organisation failure was met with Prime Minister Tatar’s reaction. “I’m not apologising to anyone,” said Tatar, claiming that the dormitory which belonged to the Özok family had all the necessary facilities.
- Struggle to stay alive at sea – 175 migrants, 69 of them children, struggled to stay alive after the boat they were travelling in capsized 10 meters away from shore. The migrants who were rescued were brought to İskele (Trikomo). Hundreds of citizens rushed to a call for help.
- First death: A 70-year-old patient couldn’t resist – A 70-year-old British patient who was receiving treatment for cirrhosis to the liver and other chronic illnesses such as kidney failure lost his life.
- Statement from Akıncı: Mothers and Fathers are concerned
- Erhürman stood by the children: The process couldn’t be managed
- Coronavirus agenda: Nine new cases in the south, two in the north. ₺72m from Turkey. Ercan shuts down: All flights suspended. Germans being sent back: As of Tuesday 22 March.
Ceased print/Online only
175 Syrian migrants among them, 69 are children, called for help when their boat nearly capsized off the coast somewhere between Taşlıca (Anogyra) and Boltaşlı (Lythrangomi). The police came to their rescue and took them to İskele (Trikomo). According to information obtained from credible sources, the 175 migrants will be deported without a court proceeding.
- ₺72m (approx €10.2m)allocated from Turkey to the TRNC.
- Two more people diagnosed with the virus. The total number of cases increased to 32.
- German tourists to be sent back to their countries on 24 March.
- 17 new cases and first coronavirus related death in south Cyprus.
- They have arrived safe and sound – Turkish Cypriots studying in the UK came in the north in two flights. The students in the first flight were taken to the River Side Hotel when the initial facility did not provide hygiene standards. The students that came in the second plane were divided between the River Side Hotel and the Palm Beach Hotel.
The operation to bring back the Turkish Cypriot students studying in the UK turned into chaos due to the ‘quarantine facility’. The government members fought among themselves. The families and the students were outraged due to the conditions of the dormitory. The quarantine rules were not observed as the parents hugged their children while waiting outside the dormitory. Deputy Prime Minister Kudret Özersay apologized to the students on behalf of the government and said they did not deserve this treatment. Hours later when visiting the dormitory, Prime Minister Ersin Tatar accused President Mustafa Akıncı of provoking the people and said: “Our government will never apologize.”
- ₺72m (approx €10.2m) Covid-19 contribution from Turkey
- Corona does not stop people from fleeing from war – 175 migrants were rescued by the police off the coast of Karpaz (Karpasia).
- “We did not deserve this” – Hasan Özok, the owner of the dormitory in Dikmen (Dikomo) defended himself and displayed the clean towels, food and new GSM lines prepared for the students.
The package is ready
The government which is planning to pay the lowest salary of ₺4000 (approx. €571) to public servants will be slashing high salaries. All overtime payments and the 13th-month bonus salaries will be removed. The state contribution to municipalities will also be slashed.
- Joint destiny – All flights in the north and south have been suspended.
- More will come – After sending a plane loaded full of medical equipment, Turkey is preparing to send ₺72m (approx €10.2m) to the TRNC.
- First coronavirus death has taken place in the south where cases have risen to 84. The number of cases in the TRNC is 32.
- All placed in hotels – Most of the students, 336 people were flown with charter flights to the island from the UK.
- People rushed to help – Boat carrying 175 Syrian migrants capsized 10m from the Karpaz (Karpas) shore.
A total disgrace
They wanted to place students arriving from the UK in a student dormitory that was unhygienic. When the students objected, they were made to suffer. The government wanted to place 159 of the 168 students who arrived yesterday (Saturday) with charter flights. The students shocked to find the toilets in the rooms filthy, the beds used and trash everywhere refused to stay there. They were then taken to the River Side Hotel in Kyrenia. Mustafa Akıncı was the first to arrive at the scene followed by Kudret Özersay. Özersay apologised to the families and the children. Ersin Tatar who was the last to arrive accused Akıncı of being there for elections purposes and criticized Özersay for apologizing. “I’m not apologizing,” said Tatar, likening the dorm building which the students refused to stay into a Hilton Hotel.
- 175 migrants land on the shore of Karpaz (Karpas) – A boat carrying 30 children, 68 women and 76 men took on water. The migrants who were rescued by police were placed at the Dr Fazıl Küçük Sports Hall. Dr Ayten Kara who examined the children shared an emotional heart-breaking post: “They were soaking wet, their hands and lips turned purple from the cold. They were so frightened that they didn’t even cry when examined.”
- First death from coronavirus in Cyprus – A 70-year-old British patient who had come into contact with a coronavirus patient at the hospital in Paphos while receiving treatment lost his life.
- Numbers reach 32. The new case in the north –The newest confirmed case is that of a TRNC citizen and was in close contact with another coronavirus patient.
- Three-month cut to salaries – Salaries above ₺4000 (approx. €571) will be slashed for three months. An official statement has not been made yet. Payment of this year’s 13th-month bonus salaries is also to be cancelled.
- Nine new cases in the south – The total number of cases in the south has risen to 84. One of the cases is a healthcare worker at the Paphos hospital.
Cases continue to rise, chaos over quarantineYenidüzen, Kıbrıs Postası, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Afrika
Internal Security, Governance and Power Sharing
Two new cases of coronavirus were reported in the north on Saturday, a day after three patients were discharged after recovering.
The first case was a German tourist, from the same group as the others with coronavirus.
The tourist belongs to the original group of 39 German tourists who were quarantined in at the Salamis hotel after the diagnoses of the first case, a 65-year-old woman.
The second case, announced on Saturday evening, is a TRNC citizen who was in close contact with another coronavirus patient.
The latest case brings the total number of coronavirus patients in the north receiving treatment to 32.
The 14-day quarantine for the German tourists ends on Monday and they are preparing to return to their home country.
Tourism and Environment Minister Ünal Üstel announced on Saturday that the German tourists would be flown back on Tuesday with charter flights.
He repeated a call to the public to abide by the measures in place.
Meanwhile, repatriated Turkish Cypriot students from the UK reacted on Saturday to appalling conditions at a premise in Dikmen (Dikomo) where they would remain in isolation
The unsanitary conditions at a private dormitory that was going to be used as a quarantine facility, exploded into a crisis, with families and students slamming the government and the Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister lashing out at them.
According to Turkish-Cypriot media, the students refused to stay there for 14 days while some posted photos of dirty bathrooms, common areas and trash bags at the entrance of the building.
The students refused to enter the premises while some parents had also arrived at the scene as did President Mustafa Akıncı, the leader of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) Tufan Erhürman and Turkish Cypriot Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay.
The latter apologized to the students and their parents and said they would be transferred to a hotel that is in the process of being prepared to become a quarantine area.
Tatar, arriving at the residence later in the afternoon accused Akıncı and Erhürman of exploiting the situation for political purposes.
“The president apparently came here to save our people from this damned place. We had an agreement with Mr Akıncı we would put aside politics during this period but what he has done is provoke the families,” Tatar ranted.
He took a swipe at Erhürman too, accusing him of failing to help him arrange accommodation for the students at the Dome Hotel in Kyrenia, which is run by the Evkaf administration.
Tatar also said he would not apologize to anyone, referring to the apology made by Özersay to the students and families earlier.
He then toured the premises, praising the owners.
Akıncı hit back at Tatar on Saturday night with a post on social media, stating that he had only gone to the residence after receiving calls from families who could not get through to anyone from the government.
“Let it not be forgotten. I may be the president but I am also human and a father. If trying to console or help families is being a provocateur let that be added to the names I have been accused of being”, he said.
Akıncı said that he maintained that belief that solidarity and unity were essential in weathering through the current crisis.
Erhüman also issued a message later in the day criticizing the government and Tatar.
“I was both shocked and disappointed with Mr Tatar’s remarks,” he said, adding that despite the accusations, he had spoken with the President of Dome Hotel’s Board of Directors Bayram Kahraman who had promised 90 rooms for the students.
Kahraman, in a post on social media, said that Tatar was aware that 90 rooms were made available when he made the remarks.
The group comprising of 150 students were later transferred to Riverside hotel in Alsancak (Karavas), but the town’s mayor Fırat Ataser said that he opposed the move as locals were worried about the decision.
The families of the student spoke of indifference from authorities and poor preparation to welcome the students as they knew two days ago who and how many would arrive.
“They put them in a dirty place they hadn’t even visited themselves without food and water,” a relative reportedly told Yenidüzen.
The students stood outside the building in Dikmen (Digomo) for five hours before they were transferred around 10:30 am to the hotel in Alsancak (Karavas).
Meanwhile, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay on Saturday said that Ankara is providing ₺72m million (approx €10.2m) in financial assistance to the north to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
In a post on Twitter, Oktay also said that Turkish authorities were continuing to work to help the TRNC with a package similar to the economic measures package announced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier this week.
Also on Saturday, Turkey announced it was suspending all flights to the north.
All three airlines, Turkish Airlines, Pegasus and Anadolu Jet, announced that they would not be flying to Northern Cyprus until further notice.
The Turkish Cypriot Minister for Public Works and Communication Tolga Atakan on Saturday said that ferry services between Turkey and the island were to continue.
He, however, reminded that only TRNC citizens would be allowed entry upon arrival and would be placed in quarantine for 14 days.
Meanwhile, it was reported on Saturday that the government was close to announcing economic measures to deal with the ongoing crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Although no official announcement has been made, reports emerged that the government is planning to slash all public-sector salaries above ₺4000 (approx. €571) for three months, cut overtime payments and remove this year’s 13th-month bonus salary paid to civil servants.
Plans are also being made to reduce state contributions to municipalities, Bayrak Radio Television Corporation and the political parties, the reports said.
Following the reports, Public Servants Trade Union (KTAMs) in a message on Saturday that said it would accept any cuts to state employees.
Migrants turned away by the south taken in by TC authoritiesYenidüzen, Kıbrıs Postası, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Afrika
Human Rights, Migration & Citizenship, Internal Security, Regional/International Relations
A boat with 175 undocumented Syrian migrants that was refused entry to South Cyprus on Friday was taken in by Turkish Cypriot authorities in the early hours of Saturday after the boat capsized 10m off the coast of the Karpaz (Karpas) peninsula.
According to reports, the fishing boat was carrying 30 women, 69 children and 76 men, all Syrian nationals.
They were taken to the Fazıl Küçük Sports Centre in İskele (Trikomo) and given blankets, food and water.
Reports said some of those on board showed signs of having a fever.
Those people were separated from the others in the group, it added.
According to the report, the boat arrived near the İskele (Trikomo) shore at around 3.30 am and had started taking on water.
Turkish Cypriot coast guard rescued the migrants before the boat capsized completely.
While locals rushed to help the migrants, calls were made on social media and from mosque speakers to donate clothing and food.
The boat was first spotted off Cape Greco on the south-east coast of the island on Friday.
The Greek Cypriot coastguard had intercepted the vessel at sea, preventing it from heading to shore.
They were brought fuel, supplies and water to the boat but Greek Cypriot media reported that the occupants of the boat refused the help when they were told the supplies were to help them return to the country from which they had sailed.
In the meantime, Fezile Osum, project coordinator at the Refugee Rights’ Association said on Saturday that it was unacceptable to deport the 175 migrants.
“Seeking asylum and being a refugee is basic human rights therefore those who came to the north must not be deported,” Osum stressed.
She added this is an issue of humanity and the officials must extend their hand of assistance to the migrants as well.
“The TRNC, like it has always been, cannot escape from its responsibilities regarding the migrants now,” Osum said, arguing that the same quarantine procedure implemented for the Turkish Cypriot students from the UK, must also be applied to the migrants.
She also pointed out that neither Turkey nor the Greek Cypriot administration was accepting refugees or migrants due to the coronavirus pandemic. Osum also expressed her appreciation of the people in İskele (Trikomo) who rushed to help and provide food and clothes for the 175 migrants.