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Cyprus

Refugee estates only still standing ‘because of residents’ prayers’

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File photo: Christodoulos Mavroudis

The House refugees committee on Tuesday called for immediate steps to be taken to improve the condition of 43 apartment buildings used by refugees, which were deemed unsuitable and dangerous.

Committee chair Nikos Kettiros spoke of buildings’ “structural inadequacies” and an urgent need for their seismic upgrading.

“The buildings are still standing only thanks to their residents’ prayers. Refugees continue to live in unsuitable conditions and no one can predict whether a disaster is going to take place,” he said.

Kettiros said reports into the condition of the buildings started in 2018 and were completed in 2020, pointing the finger to the previous Interior Minister Nicos Nouris for shelving the issue.

On the other hand, he praised the newly appointed Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou for requesting the results of the reports, as well as more information on the issue from the House committee.

Disy MP Nicos Georgiou said the state is now being called upon to upgrade the building so they are deemed safe.

“The state needs to move forward with immediate measures to remove the risk and address the problem, which concerns public health and safety,” he said.

He also said that Disy has suggested Ioannou to pay a visit to the buildings and that his party will exert pressure on the government “until a solution is found.”

Fellow Disy MP Michalis Yakoumi said that refugees deserve better living conditions and attention from the state, adding that everyone should contribute to their relocation “before we mourn more victims.

“Our country is prone to earthquakes and there is currently intense seismic activity. We must not be caught off guard, so the authorities need to act immediately. The responsibility lies on the government’s shoulders,” he said.

Meanwhile, Latsia municipality said 36 apartment buildings in the area’s refugee settlement are unfit and in need of immediate evacuation.

Mayor Christos Pittaras said the buildings, which house people as young as three years old, are at constant risk of collapse.

He said municipality officials from Latsia, Strovolos, Lakatamia and Aglandja will meet on Wednesday to discuss ongoing problems regarding apartment buildings for refugees, adding that they requested the presence of interior ministry representatives and hinting that a further meeting with President Nikos Christodoulides is also on the cards.

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