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MPs debate housing discrimination among refugees

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MPs on Tuesday sought to put an end to the discrimination among refugees by amending the law to allow everyone living in refugee housing to have title deeds.

Chairman of the House refugee committee Akel MP Nikos Kettiros said MPs have been pushing for bills “for some time” and the aim is to complete discussions before the summer. In the near future, he said, the article-by-article debate will begin.

Among the issues provided for in the bills is the lifting of the five-year limitation on lease certificates and the issuance of title deeds for those who were living in refugee housing and died before 2006.

The bills also aim, according to the Akel MP, to put an end to an “unfair discrimination” that only provides for title deeds or leasing certificates to be issued after a person who used to reside in refugee housing dies.

“An elderly person may have moved in with his children, the authorities may not be able to locate him in the dwelling granted to him in the 1970s and they do not issue the title deed or lease certificate. Under the current legislation, when this beneficiary passes away, the title deed will be issued in his name. While he is alive, if he is not residing in that residence, the title deed is not issued,” Kettiros said.

There are three categories of housing programmes for the refugee population, Diko MP Zacharias Koulias explained. There are people who have been housed in the settlements built by the state, those who have been given land and financial assistance, and the third category is those who have Turkish Cypriot houses, where the houses are taken care of by the displaced persons themselves.

Koulias said he had tabled a motion to prevent the use of Turkish Cypriot property from being taken away from displaced persons who had lived there for years just because they buy property.

“A displaced person, who acquires a house, is deprived of his Turkish Cypriot residence, while in the settlements where title is granted, one is entitled to sell it, and the same in the self-settlements.

“In an unconstitutional way, a distinction is created between those who are in Turkish Cypriot houses. The proposed law aims to ensure that, under certain conditions, Turkish Cypriot housing is not removed. It is blatant discrimination among the refugee world,” he stressed.

Disy MP Rita Theodorou Superman noted how “it is commonly accepted that the existing regulations have not led to the required rationalisation of the management of Turkish Cypriot properties, therefore their amendment is considered imperative.”

She said the highest goals in this effort are to protect the rights of refugees holding Turkish Cypriot properties, to save money from state budgets, as well as to manage the properties and the fund more efficiently.

 

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