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Cyprus

Government trying to find right balance to compensate refugees says minister

Υπουργός Εσωτερικών – Αν. Γενική Δ
Interior Minister Nicos Nouris

The government on Tuesday vowed to find a dignified way of compensating refugees for their inability to use their properties in the north, but opposition parties have claimed there is chronic inaction on the issue.

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris told the House refugee committee it is perfectly justified for refugees to seek compensation and access to their land but that there are major difficulties in assessing the value of their properties.

The Agency for Equal Distribution of Burden presented its study on the financial support given to refugees for the properties. No further details were immediately available, but Nouris praised the study “as an important tool” moving forward.

He said the government is in favour of updating the policy on refugees as their needs have changed since 1974.

Efforts are underway at the interior ministry to solve the issues and find a solution that is dignified and based on equality for all those whose properties are occupied, Nouris said.

However, Akel MP and committee chairman Nicos Kettiras called on the government to provide answers and come up with a specific plan.

“It’s been over two years and the government has not made a single step towards a plan which would support the owners of occupied properties,” Kettiras said.

He added that the plan put forth by former Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides in 2017 has since been declared unfeasible by the government, which says that it cannot work in parallel with the housing plans from the service for the Care and Rehabilitation of Displaced Persons.

At the time, Petrides said that should the president’s efforts in Switzerland to achieve a settlement on Cyprus not come to fruition, then in 2018 the government intended to overhaul its policy on refugee housing so as to “correct current distortions.”

Ruling Disy MP Nicos Georgiou told the committee that society has a deep moral obligation to the refugees, whose properties are still being looted to this day, who lost everything they had overnight.

Diko MP Zacharias Koulias said that the government appears unwilling to implement the wishes of the refugee community.

Fellow Diko MP Christos Senekis said that compensating refugees for the loss of their properties could also help limit applications to the Immovable Property Commission (IPC).

As of 2017 there were some 280,000 individuals registered as refugees.

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