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Some refugee apartment blocks need ‘immediate demolition’

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The state of certain refugee housing units is so desperate that some apartments will have to be demolished as they are beyond repair, head of the House refugee committee Nicos Kettiros warned on Saturday.

His comments were made after committee members visited the Ayiou Eleftheriou refugee estate in Latsia.

They spoke with residents in the area and confirmed that the situation is so dire that some materials can easily be scraped away by hand.

The committee has invited Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou to Tuesday’s parliamentary meeting where proposals will be put forward to finally resolve the unsuitable and dangerous housing estates.

“Under no circumstances do we want a plan which simply remains on paper, we have discussed various proposals and we will put them to the minister and I think through the upcoming discussion we can find the golden balance which is functional and implementable,” Kettiros said.

That balance, he explained, comes down to offering the right incentives for contractors to build new blocks where needed, and to implement renovation works elsewhere.

Kettiros added that the plan will be announced in the coming days, with an immediate focus to urgently get work underway on the 43 apartment blocks identified as particularly problematic.

“The state has already delayed,” he said, explaining that there are long-term plans but that for the 43 buildings in question these will be given urgent priority and works will begin immediately.

“This for us is casus belli, these 43 apartment blocks will be demolished and new ones built to serve the people living there,” he added.

As for the remaining 358 blocks across Cyprus, the committee head explained that their status will be evaluated by civil engineers to ascertain their structural adequacy.

“Where issues of unsuitability arise then these blocks will also be given priority and demolished,” he said.

On Friday, Ioannou said that residents in dangerous refugee apartment buildings that will undergo renovation or be completely rebuilt are set to receive a lump sum to pay rent elsewhere, as the state will take on the cost of refurbishment.

“I want to reiterate that our first priority is to ensure the safety of all residents of the homes and therefore, once the plan is in place soon, any homes that are deemed to be dangerous the temporary relocation of the residents will be arranged so that all of the necessary actions can be taken in order to immediately start the repair or reconstruction works in those buildings,” he said.

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