Cyprus Mail

Police and army patrols to be stepped up in old Nicosia (updated)

The main aim of the stepped up patrols is to curb illegal immigration and reduce crime

As part of measures to fight crime, illegal immigration, and terrorism, authorities have announced they were stepping up measures, including increased police and army patrols in the old town of Nicosia.

According to the justice ministry, the patrols will focus in the area around Ledra and Onasagorou Streets and the Phaneromeni area.

The announcement said the main aim is to curb illegal immigration, reduce crime and tackle terrorism.

Joint patrols by the police and national guard will take place on a 24-hour basis along the buffer zone, within the walled city of Nicosia.

These new measures will begin on December 9.

The police rapid response unit will also patrol on foot in the old town of Nicosia during the afternoon and at night from December 6.

“These measures will be reviewed in time. We are certain the new actions will raise the public’s sense of safety,” the announcement concluded.

Increased flows of irregular migrants and asylum seekers have brought into sharp focus the crossings from the north.

“Unauthorised incursions within the buffer zone are reported to the relevant authorities,” Unficyp spokesman Aleem Siddique told the Cyprus Mail on Thursday, when asked about illegal crossings.

The government is also poised to change aspects of the 2004 Green Line Regulation to address the increased migration flows.

The EU regulation sets out the terms under which persons and goods can cross the Green Line between the two sides.

The government also announced that it is seeking to purchase new surveillance technology to monitor movements along the Green Line.

Reports said the ministry of defence is in contact with four Israeli companies to secure contracts for the technology.

The various new measures announced by the government seek to regain control of a situation which many say has been ignored.

In the past month, police have carried out two major operations in the old town.

Residents in the old town of Nicosia have complained of repeated crossings through the buffer zone into the south. One resident said that he had notified a member of the National Guard stationed nearby, and the soldier said he would report the incident.

The resident said he later asked a senior army officer about illegal crossings from the buffer zone.

“Yes, we know of the crossings. It’s happening all over the place, not just in this neighbourhood. But don’t worry, we catch the people later on,” the officer said.

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