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    Monday, July 24, 2006

    Cyprus - reports of problems for refugees

    Problems are developing quickly in Cyprus as the refugees from Lebanon are arriving by the boat load to an isalnd at the peak of the holiday season.

    1. Mothers with children are running out of nappies, baby food, bottles, sun shades, clean clothes, sleeping facilities.

    2. The airport at Larnaca is in turmoil as they authorities try to get as many flights through as possible - some flights are being doubled up and taken on Boeing 747's to UK.

    3. Food supplies to refugees are very basic.

    In Larnaca, collections have been made by British residents of cash to buy fruit, nappies, baby food which has been taken to the docks.

    Menawhile reports of help from the Turkish Government ..

    An Austrian military airplane bound for Larnaca to pick up evacuees from Lebanon was not allowed into Turkish airspace and was obliged to follow a longer flight plan, an Austrian newspaper reported yesterday.

    The Kronen Zeitung described the move as a "new, scandalous behaviour of the EU candidate country". It reported the story under the headline "Turkey obstructs rescue flight – It closed its airspace to an aircraft of the federal army."

    The paper quoted EU diplomatic sources as saying Turkey’s refusal to allow the flight was directly linked to EU policy towards Cyprus.

    "According to Ankara’s policy, flights from and to Cyprus are not allowed through Turkey’s airspace. Apparently this also applies to humanitarian operations, as was Monday’s rescue of refugees from the war zone," the Austrian newspaper said.

    It said that Austria’s military attachE in Ankara asked the Turkish government to allow a Hercules transport airplane to fly over its airspace, stressing that the flight was intended to transport refugees who had left the conflict in Lebanon and travelled by ship to Cyprus.

    The Turkish government rejected the request on Monday, and a second similar request on Tuesday. The Hercules was obliged to follow a longer route home.


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