Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos said on Sunday that the brawl between more than a hundred refugees at the Kofinou reception centre for asylum seekers on Saturday, had nothing to do with their living conditions, but it was due to cultural differences.
Hasikos said that the incident occurred when some of the asylum seekers felt offended by the drunkenness of another group of people, of a different nationality, which led to a row. At the reception centre there are currently around 300 asylum seekers, Hasikos said.
“Thus, a situation was created which escalated,” he added. “There have been injuries and some people were transferred to the accident and emergency departments of the Nicosia and Larnaca hospitals because they were light injuries”.
As soon as the row erupted, he said, police were notified. He added that police were investigating “because these issues fall into the framework of the criminal code”.
Hasikos said they are assessing the situation and they might transfer some of the asylum seekers elsewhere. “At the moment, there is peace and quiet at the reception centre,” he said.
He added that the brawl had nothing to do with demands, or their living conditions.
“it was an issue, a difference, that occurred between people of different nationalities.”
According to reports, four Somali women and four Syrian men were slightly injured during the brawl between more than 100 Somali and Syrian refugees, men and women.
During the row, which began at around 11pm and lasted well over an hour, both men and women from the two sides were shouting, throwing stones, sticks and other objects at each other, police said. The grounds of the reception centre suffered extensive damage.
To restore order, back-up arrived from the Kofinou and Larnaca police stations, and the police rapid response unit. The situation at the centre only returned to normal at around 5.30am.