Paphos mayor Phedonas Phedonos said people who exploit refugees and immigrants in the city by piling them up illegally in shops and by using them as cheap labour would no longer be tolerated.
Phedonos on Tuesday went to visit a building in the historic town centre after being presented with photos taken by the municipality and the police showing around ten shops of around 25 squares metres each converted into illegal accommodation for refugees and immigrants.
Police officers, members of the fire department in Paphos, health workers and municipality officials were also present during the visit.
“There are groups of Cypriots, white collar people with respectable jobs and families who are exploiting the situation,” Phedonos said.
“The conditions in which some immigrants and refugees are forced to live are absolutely appalling and cannot be tolerated.”
The Paphos mayor also said that some of the landlords were further taking advantage of their tenants by using them as cheap labour for their businesses, adding that the municipality would no longer allow illegal immigrants in the city, nor the abuse they were enduring.
At the same time, Phedonos stressed that he will not accept racism towards foreign people, adding that legal immigrants are more than welcome to live and work in Paphos.
“However, the unacceptable situation I witnessed will stop at once,” he said. “I have already instructed several municipality workers to check whether there are other similar cases in the city, where such illegal activities take place.
“I will not tolerate people exploiting immigrants and refugees under the nose of the authorities. These people are earning tens of thousands of euros illegally, they don’t pay taxes and they are also responsible for sheltering illegal immigrants in the country.”
Phedonos said that on Tuesday he instructed the relevant authorities to interrupt the supply of water and electricity to the illegal premises. Moreover, he asked the government’s tax department to conduct a check on the owners of the shops converted to houses.
“The landlords receive €300 per month for each of their tenants. They have illegally connected the premises with electricity and water, adding another illegality by charging them an additional €50. We will no longer allow them to continue these activities,” Phedonos said.