Cyprus Mail

Killing highlights migrants’ living conditions, tensions in Nicosia’s old city (Updated)

Police are still on the lookout for Mohamad Al-Shalal, a 27-year-old from Syria, who is believed to be connected to the fatal stabbing of a 24-year-old Pakistani national on Sunday morning in Rigenis Street, in old Nicosia.

The killing has highlighted the poor living conditions and tensions associated with the high concentration of migrants and asylum seekers of many nationalities in Nicosia’s old city.

On Sunday, the police arrested a 22-year-old Palestinian in connection with the death of the Pakistani man, Ahmed Bin Talib. The suspect was remanded for eight days on Monday.

The case investigator Stavriani Andreou told Nicosia district court that the police found the Palestinian man sleeping in an abandoned house in old Nicosia and arrested him.

A knife, which is believed to be the murder weapon, was found on the premises.

During the subsequent interrogation, police said the man admitted to having stabbed Bin Talib during a robbery but claimed he did not want to kill him.

The man later revealed the name of his accomplice, Al-Shalal, who is still at large with the police currently looking for him.

Police are asking anyone with any information to contact the Nicosia CID or report to the closest police station.

Meanwhile, the Nicosia municipality, released a statement on Monday criticising the current living conditions of migrants and asylum seekers, especially in terms of homelessness and financial hardship.

“Cyprus has been faced with a large stream of migration in recent years,” the statement said.

“A large number of migrants are now living within the Nicosia walls, usually in unsafe and precarious conditions, mainly due to the low cost of living in the area.”

The statement said that managing issues related to the ever-increasing number of migrants was the state’s responsibility, but Nicosia municipality lacked resources.

The municipality said it was trying to implement programmes specifically designed for migrants and refugees, like free childcare services and language courses, along with psychological support and vocational training.

It said the municipality was conducting increased health checks on premises to ensure decent living conditions and to reduce the number of people living in abandoned buildings.

“However, it’s evident that more funds are urgently needed and we have repeatedly reported the situation to the relevant ministries with suggestions and requests,” the statement said.

The municipality called for additional funding to establish special social officers to collaborate with police to prevent abusive behaviour and criminal activity.

They said the state should establish minimum standards for the rental of premises in the old town to guarantee decent living conditions.

“We strongly condemn the establishment of temporary mass accommodation for asylum seekers in old Nicosia, a measure the state wrongly adopted to address the asylum seekers’ housing needs,” the municipality said.


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