People who live near Pournara refugee reception centre protested on Saturday, demanding the state limit the number of migrants there to 600 and improve their living conditions.
The two-hour protest by residents of Kokkinotrimithia, Denia, Paliometocho, Ayious Trimithias, Palechori and other villages near the reception centre started at 10am.
Dozens of people stood outside Pournara holding banners reading ‘Safety and health in our village’ and ‘The government should take on its responsibilities’ in the presence of police.
During the protest, demonstrators also closed off the Nicosia-Astromeritis road for a few minutes.
They called on the interior minister Nicos Nouris to ban the move of migrants within their communities, to limit the number of migrants at Pournara to 600 which they said is the maximum number of people that can be hosted at the centre, and to improve the living conditions. They highlighted that migrants should only be staying at the centre for a maximum of 20 days after their arrival in the island.
Protestors also demanded that the laws that apply to locals should be applied to migrants, calling for a crack down on female prostitution and drug trafficking.
Residents had brought forward some of those issued in a letter addressed to Nouris on December 6. The letter mentioned the expansion of the centre and the huge problems that emerged including increased crime, economic decline and lack of development at the area.
The reception centre was designed to host asylum seekers for a maximum of 72 hours until health checks are carried out however it “started accommodating all irregularly arriving asylum seekers for indefinite periods often reaching 4-6 months,” according to Aida Asylum information database.