Buffer zone communities in the area where barbed wire was placed to curb migrant flows from the north have been increasingly inconvenienced, Astromeritis mukhtar Aris Constantinou said on Monday.

Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, Constantinou confirmed problems faced by residents in the area, including difficulties tending their farmland in the buffer zone, property devaluation and an inability to build in the fields. The barbed wire stretches 11km from Astromeritis to the old Nicosia airport.

Commenting on whether there had been a decrease in migrant flows, Constantinou said that there has been a decrease, but he was unable to attribute that to the barb wire.

“The increase in green line patrol guards led to the decrease in migrants,” he said, referring to the 221 buffer zone patrol guards that were hired earlier this year in a bid control irregular migration from the north.

The barbed wire was placed along the green line under the tenure of the previous Interior Minister Nicos Nouris. He also hired the guards. Since then, the current minister Constantinos Ioannou has assured the communities that solutions to their problems will be found.

Constantinou said that the migrant flows to villages nearby have also decreased as migrants are currently coming by sea.

According to Constantinou, one solution would be to increase the number of gates in the barbed wire fencing where farmers can access their land, and then slowly work to remove the barbed wire.

Another issue is the mandatory gate pass. Constantinou said only the farmers can access the gate as the property owner, while merchants that collect their produce have difficulty, as the gate needs to be opened and closed by the individual with the pass.

The issues emerged further on Monday, when Haravghi reported that an initiative launched by individuals in the villages are unhappy with how long it is taking for the government to find a solution.

According to the group, made up of some 35 families, they were assured by Ioannou that there would be a solution would be found, but that the government was not willing to remove the fence, claiming that they are under political pressure not to take down the fence.

The head of the initiative, Aphrodite Lougrou said the minister would examine the issue again in September again.

A member of the Akaki community council, Artemis Aspris also commented on the issue, saying that some people with larger plots of land are required to travel over 1km from one side of their field to the other, as they must pass through the gate.

The barbed wire, Aspris said, is also an issue for those who want to build in the area, as now they have put plans on hold.

Aspris added that the fencing increases the risk of fires breaking out in the fields because it impedes fire trucks accessing the area.