Migrant reception camp to get multi-million refit

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The dilapidated facilities at the Pournara reception centre for asylum seekers will get a €25 mln upgrade to replace tents with suitable accommodation units.

Pounara has been criticised for its lack of basic facilities and humane living conditions at the overcrowded centre.

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris is in Brussels with President Nicos Anastasiades.

He will sign an agreement on Thursday with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for initial funding to the tune of €13 mln.

He will also negotiate additional funds from Brussels for assistance to the around 16,000 Ukrainian refugees staying in Cyprus.

The European Commission approved €68 mln for the construction of a pre-departure centre in the area of Menoyia, but they were told there was difficulty in the allocation of more funds, mainly due to the war in Ukraine.

Nouris said that his ministry “explained with great clarity” to the European Commission that Cyprus cannot be left alone “simply because we are the member state facing the most serious problems”.

He said the government presented a plan to upgrade Pournara, including replacing all tents with residential units, a project estimated to cost €25 mln.

“Through specific efforts, a mechanism has been found to provide initial funding of €13 mln. This money will be allocated to the IOM with which the ministry will sign an agreement.”

This agreement will enable €13 mln funding for the first phase of the Pournara renovation, starting next month, with the completion scheduled for October.

Nouris said there would be no expansion of the reception centre, but important improvement works will be carried out covering hygiene facilities, the hospitality and security areas.

Nicosia will also negotiate an additional subsidy for Cyprus to support and assist Ukrainian refugees staying in the country.

He said that 80,300 Ukrainians arrived in Cyprus, of which approximately 54,000 have left for their homeland, so around 16,000 remain.

The Interior Ministry has issued special cards for Ukrainian refugees so that they can receive support and assistance.

“For this very large number, a very significant amount is needed to meet the needs of these people”.

So far, around €6 mln has been budgeted by the European Commission, which, “even though it has not yet been given to us, it is considered too low”, said Nouris.

Cypriot authorities estimate that the total expenditure for Ukrainian refugees will reach €15 mln.