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Refugee estate title deeds should be given ‘as soon as possible’

house refugees
File Photo: House refugee committee meeting (Photo Christos Theodorides)

People living in refugee estates need to be given the title deeds to their homes as soon as possible, the House refugee committee said on Tuesday while it also decided that next week structural adequacy studies on housing estates will be discussed at their next session.

Speaking after the meeting, committee chair Akel MP Nicos Kettiros said that all the MPs agreed the delay in issuing the deeds is victimising the displaced and that it must be dealt with.

“Our assessment is that the delays in the process are the result of wrong and unacceptable priorities of the previous government. The state agencies were rushing to secure the skyscrapers and properties for the [golden] passports and the refugees whose only asset is the house in the estates were left to wait 30 years for title deeds,” he said.

Disy MP Yiorgos Karoullas raised the issue of procedures, proposing that the three on-site inspections carried out by the competent authorities, land registry, the refugee office, and urban planning, be done in one visit and, if necessary, that additional fixed-term employees be hired to speed up the process.

A spokesperson for the interior ministry told the committee that the officials there have tabled two bills to replace the regulations for receiving title deeds.

With these, the spokesperson said, many of the problems that cause the delays will be solved.

Meanwhile, community leader of Mouttayiaka in Limassol Vassos Koumbaros spoke of “second rate refugees”, referring to those in his community who live on Turkish Cypriot land that has not been expropriated by the state.

Calling for title deeds to be issued to all, he pointed out that the fifth phase of the housing estate is still pending, where although the decision to expropriate was made in 2008, 23 plots are still untitled.

On Mouttayiaka, the refugee office, and the land registry said that by 2024 they will issue title deeds.

Meanwhile, the committee also decided that next week they will discuss earthquake studies to be conducted at refugee housing estates.

Kettiros said that last week the committee sent a letter to the director of the department of urban planning regarding its obligation to send to the committee the static adequacy study made by the department for the refugee buildings.

“It is incomprehensible the ministry’s insistence on keeping secret a study that touches on security issues of refugees in the estates. Not only do they refuse to inform parliament, but they also refuse to inform the residents themselves about the situation in which their apartment buildings are,” he said.

 

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