Metal gates are going up across a swathe of farmland along the Green Line, bolstering barbed wire barriers installed last year.
According to government plans to combat illegal entries, a razor wire fence is being erected along the buffer zone near Astromeritis, Peristerona and Akaki, with the aim being to cover about 11km to the defunct Nicosia airport.
The metal gates installed this week will number 20 in total, according to the plans, primarily to allow entry to farmers so they can access land which stretches into the buffer zone.
Photographs shared with the Cyprus Mail show the metal gates linking up with the barbed wire. According to the terms of the tenders announced late last year, the gates must be installed within a year – with priority given to the Akaki, Peristerona, and Astromeritis areas.
The 20 gates are to be placed along dirt roads used by the farmers, many of whom expressed their dismay when the barbed wire was first erected last year – leading to questions about the practicalities of the move.
Local media reported that the farmers, recognized by the UN peacekeeping force, will be given keys to the gates, while sentries may even man the posts. Farmers will not be allowed to pass through the gates at night, Alpha reported.
According to the government, around three-quarters of migrant flows come through the dividing line and the barriers being placed there are to act as a deterrent. It also said it is simply fulfilling its obligation under the Green Line Regulation to control people’s entry into the Republic and to stamp out the smuggling of goods.
But the move has proven controversial, with some seeing the barrier as constituting a de-facto border – claims that the government has vehemently denied.
The placing of a razor wire fence along a segment of the buffer zone is not, nor can it be construed as, erecting a border, the interior ministry said last March, hitting back at criticism from the main opposition party, Akel.
The ministry also said that, prior to installing the razor wire, it had briefed the representative of the European Union in Cyprus and the United Nations, to whom a map was submitted.
But other than opposition parties, the wire has also upset famers in the area who have fields in the buffer zone because it has made it difficult to access them.