Around 1,000 people severely affected by the earthquake that devastated entire cities in Turkey and Syria on February 6 are currently seeking refuge in the north, Turkish Cypriot ‘welfare minister’ Hassan Tatsoi said on Tuesday.
Speaking to Turkish Cypriot media outlet Yeni Duzen, Tatsoi said that three social workers have been appointed by the ‘government’ in the north to oversee the many asylum applications filed by people who have lost homes, jobs and relatives.
“We are monitoring every single person arriving here asking for help,” he said.
“At the same time, we are in constant communications with Turkish officials to make sure these people do not lose their rights in their homeland.”
Tatsoi said that people arriving in the north asking for help can be granted temporary residence permits similar to tourist visas.
He also added that, under the exceptional circumstances, they will likely be allowed to work, clarifying, however, that the ‘welfare ministry’ is still trying to find a way to lift the legal restrictions preventing them being legally employed.
“We have taken the necessary initiatives so that people who have been granted temporary residence permits can start working even without a work permit,” Tatsoi said.
Moreover, he revealed that around 200 asylum applications concern students asking to be allowed to finish their school year in the north. Another 130 people have also asked for medical help.
At the moment, temporary residence permits in the north have a validity of six months, according to Yeni Duzen.