Migrant child dies in hospital

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A three year old girl, rescued together with about 60 others aboard a small boat off the coast of Cyprus, died on Thursday morning, just hours after being admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of the Makario Hospital for Children in Nicosia.

Two other children are in critical condition.

Charalambos Charilaou, spokesperson for the State Health Services (OKYPY), said that the child suffered a sudden cardiac arrest, while the other two are being monitored in the ICU at the same hospital.

He said that the two “are in a very serious condition.”

Two more children are admitted at Famagusta General Hospital in Paralimni, while two adults are undergoing treatment for fractured bones at Larnaca General.

The three children were discovered in an unconscious state early Wednesday on a boat off Cape Greco, along with 55 other individuals.

The spokesperson for OKYPY initially said that, “the condition of all the children is serious. They endured harsh conditions until they reached Cyprus, so we cannot provide any further details. The situation of all the children is very serious.”

On Wednesday, a total of 58 people were rescued when they were found cramped in a wooden boat around 30 nautical miles off Cyprus’ shores at 4:30 am. The boat had departed from Lebanon, and those on board were believed to be Syrian nationals.

The police reported the arrest of a 47-year-old individual believed to have been in charge of the smuggling operation.

Designate Syria as ‘safe’

Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou, in his comments to the media, emphasised that the arrival of the boat validated the government’s concerns. He reiterated his call for the EU to reassess and designate Syria as a safe country, to prevent nationals from seeking political asylum or as refugees.

Ioannou also urged the EU to collaborate with a team from Europol and Lebanon’s authorities to monitor the country’s borders, a call that was later reiterated by President Nikos Christodoulides.

The president emphasised that the Lebanese government should implement measures to restrict the influx of irregular migrants leaving the country by boat to reach Cyprus.

He said that Cyprus has already taken effective steps in this regard.

Christodoulides stated, “over the past 11 months, we have implemented specific measures that have yielded positive results.”

He further pointed that there has been a decline in the number of migrants arriving in Cyprus, with departures exceeding arrivals. He noted a more than 60% increase in departures since 2022, highlighting the simultaneous occurrence of dramatic events, such as the recent incident witnessed off the coast.