Akrotiri, Cyprus (BBN)-Two boats carrying 140 migrants, including children, have landed at the RAF base at Akrotiri in Cyprus, the Ministry of Defence has said.
“We have not established where they are from yet,” a base spokesman said, reports BBC.
It is believed to be the first time during the current Mediterranean migrant crisis that people have arrived on UK sovereign territory.
The base, on the south coast, has been used to launch British air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq.
The boats arrived early on Wednesday morning, the Ministry of Defence said.
The BBC’s diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus said there was now a question about the migrants’ legal status and whether, as they had effectively arrived on British soil, they could now attempt to claim asylum in the UK.
‘Immediate action’
Almost 600,000 migrants are estimated to have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year, with the majority coming from Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.
Unlike a number of Greek or Italian islands, European Union member Cyprus has not seen an influx, despite its relative proximity – less than 100 miles – to the Syrian coast.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has called for an extraordinary summit of several EU and Balkan leaders on Sunday to discuss the migrant crisis.
In a statement on Wednesday, he said there was “a need for much greater co-operation, more extensive consultation and immediate operational action”.
A number of Iraqi Kurds landed at RAF Akrotiri in 1998 and still live in a second British base on Cyprus, Dhekelia, in former military accommodation.
They have tried to apply for asylum in the UK, but have been repeatedly turned down by the government.