By Angelos Anastasiou
Delays in issuing refugee ID cards and undeclared or disputed properties may result in the loss of up to 5 per cent of all properties in the north of the island, the House refugees committee heard on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters after a committee session, chairwoman Skevi Koukouma said that the criteria for issuing refugee IDs was too stringent.
She added that the issue of granting refugee IDs to displaced individuals living abroad was discussed during the session. Such individuals are not recognised as refugees by the government of Cyprus.
With regard to disputed and undeclared properties in the north, Koukouma said that the Land Registry had the will to help resolve the issue, adding that a letter would be sent to the interior minister asking him to take measures to address the problem so that those found to be the true owners of disputed properties can benefit from the programmes of the Agency for the Equal Distribution of Burdens.
Asked whether after disputes have been sorted out some owners may decide to resort to the Turkish Cypriot Immovable Property Commission, Koukouma said the issue related to violations of the right to property ownership, adding that there are other ways to discourage resorting to the commission.
The committee has heard that 4 to 5 per cent of occupied properties are either disputed or undeclared.
DISY deputy Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis said that 5 per cent was a significant figure, and called on every refugee to declare any properties they owned in the north.
He added that many declared properties that did not belong to them, noting that there has been a claim that this was an organised effort.
DIKO MP Sofoklis Fyttis said that the executive must be more lenient in issuing refugee IDs, especially now that financial criteria have been set in granting benefits.
With regard to disputed properties, Fyttis said that municipal and local councils must be engaged, so that the true owners can be identified.
Fyttis noted that, under the provisions of the 2004 Annan plan, undeclared or disputed properties would be lost.
Therefore, he added, up to 5 per cent of Greek Cypriot owned properties in the north were at risk of being lost, arguing that in order to return to the occupied areas, one must own property and a home.