Latsia mayor Christos Pittaras told the House refugees committee on Tuesday he could “not rule out” involving the police should refugees living in apartments set for demolition refuse to move out.
Two beneficiaries of the government’s scheme for those living in dangerous refugee housing units (Ktizo) have been given until today to vacate their apartment.
Pittaras said “if the apartments are not vacated, matters will proceed to the next stage”.
Akel asked that the police do not intervene, saying “the police are not needed at this time. We have common sense and we can help these situations with measures provided by the state”.
The meeting came as it was announced that over half of the refugees in 43 buildings which have been deemed dangerous and are set to be demolished, have responded and taken up what is offered through the government scheme.
Senior officer of the town planning department Irene Yiannakou said a total of 20 of the buildings have been deemed as “in immediate danger” and “need to be evacuated as soon as possible”.
In those buildings, 70 per cent of people have responded. The overall number of applications in all 43 buildings is 197, representing 52 per cent of the total.
The government therefore considers the Ktizo scheme to be “progressing in the right direction”, she added.
In addition, Yiannakou said that of the five “dangerous” apartment buildings in Latsia, four have already been fully evacuated.
She said buildings in the Kokkines neighbourhood in Strovolos have also been evacuated, while bids for demolitions will be registered next week,
She said the town planning department “is in daily contact with beneficiaries”, and that the government provides assistance to them in their relocation.
Also at the meeting, the department’s director Kyriakos Koundouros explained that there are problems for ‘category C’ beneficiaries, those being people who bought apartments from displaced persons and therefore do not receive sponsorship from the state.
He said “a lot of work has been done in collaboration with the land registry to record values of real estate. They have recorded how much has been mortgaged in each property to see how we deal with these problems”.
Refugee committee chairman Nikos Kettiros said “things seem to be progressing at a pace which is outside of the timetables”.
In addition, he said beneficiaries may not have applied for the scheme because they fall into ‘category C’.
“These people may have a legal basis to remain in the apartment buildings. The interior ministry and the town planning department should reconsider their position,” he said.
He said others may not have responded since there are several co-owners of a single apartment, adding “perhaps the original owner passed away, and has many heirs who do not agree”.