Author: ROSS IBBETSON FOR MAILONLINE
Thirty-five refugees who have been stranded in Cyprus for two decades have been granted residency in the UK.
Tag Bashir, 46, fled the war in Sudan and became part of a 75-strong group of Ethiopian, Iraqi and Syrian people who were trafficked from the Middle East.
Their traffickers left them stranded on the shores of RAF Akrotiri, after promising them a journey to Italy in the fishing boat in 1998.
The refugees have been living in a legal limbo at Dekhelia Garrison for two decades.
Now the British government has granted the group residency.
Bashir said that over time their group dwindled as many either moved on to other European countries or returned to their country of origin.
He is ecstatic for a ‘brighter future for his three children; Miles who supports Manchester United, his younger sister Destiny and older brother Emmanuel, all born in Cyprus.
‘We feel very, very happy after the long-standing problems … we’re trying to be in the UK as soon as we can so that we can establish our life and see how we can start our future for those kids,’ Bashir told the Associated Press Tuesday.
He said the refugees who remained never lost sight of their goal.
For years, they waged a legal battle to get British authorities to allow them to reach the UK.
Britain had refused, saying that the Refugee Convention was never extended to the two military bases that it retained after Cyprus gained independence from British colonial rule in 1960.
The court battle moved from Cyprus to the UK where the group was represented by law firm Leigh Day.
But just before a Supreme Court hearing that was scheduled for late last month, the British government decided to settle the case and grant the six families permanent residency ‘due to the highly unusual circumstances.’
Bashir said said that ‘anywhere in the UK is a better place’ than Dhekelia’s dilapidated, corrugated iron houses, slated for demolition years ago.
He said a life in the U.K. will afford his children – and the 14 other kids affected by the decision – chances at a much better life.
‘The one thing that we need for them is to integrate in a society, to go to a place much wider, to see much different things,’ Bashir said.
Bashir doesn’t believe that the decision could set a precedent for other refugees reaching the British bases because the ‘unique’ decision to grant them residency was ‘made on a special basis.’