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Chlorakas complex under police guard as migrant count rises (Update)

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The number of migrants recorded as living in the Ayios Nikolaos complex in Chlorakas has reached 246, Paphos CID head Michalis Nikolaou said on Friday.

“The majority of the inhabitants are cooperating peacefully with the authorities,” the police chief told the Cyprus Mail, adding that families are among them, but the vast majority are young men.

Friday marks the deadline for state agencies and the police to complete the registration operation, as per Monday’s meeting at the Presidential Palace.

Nikolaou noted that follow-up procedures outlined in the same meeting will now be implemented, among them, the sealing-off of the condemned complex to prevent resettlement.

Asked about how exactly this will be carried out and whether a demolition of the infamous complex was planned, Nikolaou said the matter was still being decided on by state agencies, including the department of public works.

“For the moment, the complex has been placed under police guard, with 24-hour patrols as well as stationary units,” he said.

But he admitted that indefinite securing of the complex, even with fencing or a wall, would be a tall order.

“The complex has numerous entrances, it is a huge open space with 20 to 30 blocs, two and three storeys high, and also maisonettes,” Nikolaou detailed.

According to Nikolaou, during Thursday’s operation, which started at 5am, an additional 87 people were registered. The initial operation on Tuesday, identified 81 tenants, while on Wednesday another 60 people were found in previously empty apartments.

This brings the total recorded up to 246 but questions still remain as to the whereabouts of an unknown number of others, with locals reporting having seen carloads of migrants fleeing the area.

So far, a total of 36 people have been voluntarily rehoused in the Kofinou reception centre, while one person, found to be illegally residing in the Republic, was arrested and detained pending deportation proceedings.

One migrant was arrested and charged for violence against the authorities during the relocation operations.

A 15-day window for the remaining tenants to vacate the premises, by securing other accommodation or relocating to Kofinou, officially starts on Friday.

The issue came to head last week, after the electricity authorities cut power to the complex and placed a substation under guard following electricity tapping. Around 100 people began protesting and demanding to be housed elsewhere.

The protest turned violent with police’s anti-riot unit intervening and chemical irritants used against the demonstrators.

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