THE Ministry of Defence in the UK has announced that a number of boatloads of migrants beached at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus early on the morning of October 21.
It is not known whether the four boats reported to contain up to 140 men, women and children had deliberately targeted the British base which is classified as British sovereign soil or whether they were carried there by the currents.
Britain has two such bases in Cyprus, Akrotiri and Dhekelia which were established in the country when Cyprus was granted independence in 1960 and have been important in recent years because of the conflict around North Africa, the Middle East, and Afghanistan.
It is believed to be the first time during the current European migrant crisis that people have arrived on any UK sovereign territory although a number have been rescued by Spanish authorities in the Straits of Gibraltar.
“We have had an agreement in place with the Republic of Cyprus since 2003 to ensure that the Cypriot authorities take responsibility in circumstances like this.” said a Ministry of Defence spokesman. “At the moment our key priority is ensuring everybody on board is safe and well and when we can release further details we will.”
As an EU member, Cyprus has been allocated a number of refugees but surprisingly, unlike a number of Greek and Italian islands it has not seen a large number of arrivals despite the fact that it is less than 100 miles from the Syrian coast.
A number of Iraqi Kurds landed at RAF Akrotiri in 1998 and still live at Dhekelia, in former military accommodation as their application for refugee status in the UK has been turned down.