Cyprus Mail

Local leader lashes out at migrants

migrants outside the kokkinotrimithia refugee camp on the outskirts of nicosia
Pournara reception centre in Kokkinotrimithia

Residents of the Kokkinotrimithia area are at the end of their tether because of growing problems caused by asylum seekers from the nearby facility, Christakis Meleties, community leader of the village of Kokkinotrimithia, said on Tuesday.

Contrary to reassurances by state officials the situation worsened by the day, he said at the House ad hoc committee on demographics, recounting the issues facing the local community as a result of the influx of asylum seekers at the Pournara reception centre.

He alleged that traffickers stop by at the Pournara facility and drop off irregular migrants. And citing police data, he said there was a massive increase in the use of cocaine and that Pournara “is full of drugs.”

The community leader reported that more than 1,500 foreign nationals wander outside the facility sleeping under trees, defecating outdoors and dumping their garbage, with the local community having to pay to “clean up the waste of the foreigners.”

He predicted that “in ten years we will be a minority in Cyprus, and the majority will be Muslims…the government may have decided that we should become an African area, but we won’t accept it.”

Meleties went on:

“Let them take the foreigners to the park of the presidential palace, to the parks in Limassol, and not leave them in the villages of our area. Foreigners are sleeping in the yards of houses, and every so often the police are called to remove them.

“In Poland and Hungary they install electrical cables to prevent them [immigrants] crossing through. Are these countries not members of the European Union? Let our government representatives go to Congo to arrange for the transfer of foreigners instead of waiting on Brussels to do something.”

The community leader called on the government to solve the problem immediately. The affected communities plan to stage a protest at the presidential palace.

Committee chairman, Linos Papayiannis (Elam) said the government must realise that some communities simply have no more leeway to host irregular migrants.

“From Ayia Napa to Paphos, we are daily losing areas, but the state continues to faff about.”

Last month police told parliament that the Pournara reception centre, initially designed for a capacity for 400 people, currently hosts around ten times that number.

The centre is located outside the village of Kokkinotrimithia with asylum seekers from some 30 ethnicities and seven religions.

Alekos Tryfonides, an MP with the Dipa party, said that local residents were rightfully indignant.

He spoke of reports of harassment of female pupils by “Africans,” thefts from premises and homes, and drug use by asylum seekers.

He said homes were rented out to one or two persons, but then 15 people or more ended up living there.

The government has pledged to hire 300 special constables to patrol and monitor the ‘Green Line’ through which the vast majority of irregular migrants cross.

Tryfonides said the outcome of the recent summit of EU interior ministers was disappointing. The plan appears to be a voluntary redistribution of irregular migrants among EU member states.

Last week, and ahead of the summit, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris mentioned the proposal floated by France – which currently holds the EU presidency – for a ‘voluntary solidarity pact’ by which some 10,000 asylum seekers arriving in so-called ‘frontline’ countries would be re-distributed among EU member states.

Cyprus’ position is that any such pact must be compulsory, not voluntary, and that the European Commission itself should strike up repatriation agreements with third countries – a centralised arrangement binding for all EU member states.

Nouris said the EU’s five ‘frontline’ countries – Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain and Malta – expected to receive around 150,000 new asylum seekers in 2022 overall. Cyprus alone has seen 11,000 new asylum applicants during the first five months of the year.

As such, the French proposal did not appear realistic in terms of addressing the real problems.

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