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‘Safe zone’ at Pournara for unaccompanied minors now operating

ÁÍÇËÉÊÏÉ ÌÅÔÁÍÁÓÔÅÓ ÓÔÏÕÓ ÄÑÏÌÏÕÓ ÔÇÓ ËÅÕÊÙÓÉÁÓ
File Photo: A group of unaccompanied minors during a recent protest over their situation at Pournara (CNA)

The newly established ‘safe zone’, at  the Pournara reception centre is now operational, the EU Agency for Asylum (EUAA) announced.

The new units, installed by the EUAA, will house unaccompanied minors who are applying for asylum.

According to the EUAA, 18 Somali female unaccompanied minors have already been transferred, while additional transfers will take place in the coming days into 17 accommodation units.

Some other unaccompanied minors have been moved out the facility recently to accommodation in Paphos.

There are more than 2,000 asylum seekers of 30 different nationalities crammed into the Pournara facility in the area of ​​Kokkinotrimithia outside Nicosia, with around 50 new arrivals every day, which makes living conditions there difficult.

According to stats released by the EU’s external border agency Frontex, over 11,000 new asylum seekers landed in Cyprus in the first seven months of this year.

In March there were 2,357 arrivals, in April 1,866, in May 1,472, in June 1,449 and in July 1,436. Most of the asylum seekers came from safe third countries.

According to a recent report in Phileleftheros citing the asylum service of the interior ministry, there are around 2,000 asylum seekers hosted in Pournara, of which 1,598 are men and 431 are women, while 198 are unaccompanied minors.

The top six countries of origin for arrivals in July 2022 were Syria, Congo, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Pournara was never designed for long-term stays but the number of arrivals is surpassing the ability to deal with them, according to the government.

The Unhcr says holistic solutions should be sought to ensure decent living conditions for asylum seekers, wherever they reside, throughout the asylum process, and in accordance with international and European law.

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