Deputy social welfare minister Anastasia Anthousi on Tuesday said her ministry was working on an alternative solution for housing 150 unaccompanied minors in Paphos after the owner of the Famagusta accommodation initially chosen unexpectedly retracted his offer.

The minors were scheduled to be relocated from Pournara migrant reception centre to accommodation in Famagusta after a cabinet decision last week.

“Unfortunately the relocation, which was scheduled for today, will have to be postponed as the owner of the space refused to sign the agreement we had discussed,” Anthousi said in a written statement.

Pournara hit the headlines earlier this month after dozens of minors left the centre and camped near a church in Nicosia to protest over living conditions, which were described as dismal especially for unaccompanied minors.

This prompted a visit to the facility by President Nicos Anastasiades, which was followed by a high-level meeting that decided on a series of steps to ease overcrowding of both the adult population and of unaccompanied minors.

The deputy minister said that all stakeholders began to work immediately after cabinet approved the relocation of the 150 minors.

“Within five days, the required process was set into motion to move the children into accommodation in the Famagusta district, to employ caretakers and social workers, and to gather the necessary supplies and food f or them,” Anthousi said.

At the same time, she added, the education ministry, teaching union Poed and NGOs began to collaborate on educational programmes and activities.

She also said that the justice ministry and the police undertook all matters of security, and with the help of the asylum service they ensured the children would be safe within the space as their applications were processed.

“Following the new developments, the deputy tourism ministry has immediately located another facility in Paphos, and we have restarted the process for its preparation,” she said. “Our goal is for the relocation to happen within the next few days without further delays”.