Maintaining the military status quo and the safety of civilians in the buffer zone continues to be Unficyp’s most important priority, a spokesperson of the peacekeeping force said, following complaints by farmers tending their fields in the Nicosia buffer zone on Saturday that they were asked by the UN to leave after the interference of Turkish soldiers.
Unficyp’s spokesperson, Aleem Siddique, told the Cyprus News Agency that the incident concerned an individual who “was refused entry into the buffer zone as he did not have UN permission to farm a number of plots.”
“Any activities that undermine the military status quo within the buffer zone cannot be permitted,” he said, adding that maintaining the military status quo and the safety of civilians in the buffer zone remains the peacekeeping force’s “most important priority.”
Four farmers told the media on Saturday that they were asked by the UN to leave while working their land in the Nicosia buffer zone after Turkish soldiers complained they were getting too close to their outposts.
One of the farmers said that they were tending their fields when, around 10 armed Turkish soldiers appeared on the embankment, and that soon after, they were asked by the UN to leave the area, as if they chose to remain there, they would do so at their own risk.
The incident reportedly took place in the buffer zone in the Sopaz area.
This was not the first time Turkish soldiers had interrupted their work, the farmer said, adding that they would contact the foreign ministry on Monday to resolve the matter.
He said that they are allowed to cultivate their land within the buffer zone, but that the UN maintain that they ought to stay 200 metres from the Turkish military outposts.