The government’s decision to create shelters for vulnerable minors between the municipalities of Germasogeia and Ayios Athanasios in Limassol without informing the local authorities sparked outrage among officials and locals on Tuesday.
Germasogeia mayor Kyriakos Xydias said that on September 12 a request was sent to the municipality for the allocation of state land for the creation of an interdisciplinary centre for child victims of domestic violence, and a state-run youth shelter.
“We were given two days to express our opinions,” Xydias said, remarking that “the municipality is not a coffee shop”, explaining that it was impossible to respond to the request as the law on municipalities provides for the convening of a municipal council session at least 48 hours before a decision is made.
Later on Tuesday President Nikos Christodoulides said that “those that should, will be notified once we have reached a stage where decisions need to be made”.
The Republic of Cyprus is responding to its international obligations, especially when those regard children, he said.
He said that “we are obliged to investigate the matter in various areas of the country.
“From then on, when the issue is discussed, when there is an evaluation, those who need to be informed will be informed,” he added.
“I don’t think it’s helpful to go out and make public statements like this,” he finally said, “because immigration is an issue that very justifiably worries the majority of the Cypriot people”.
On October 3, the municipality opposed the request on the grounds that the government needed to provide further details on what exactly it intends to create.
Xydias further claimed that neither the mayors nor the members of the municipal councils of Germasogeia and Ayios Athanasios were aware of this plan, telling complaining locals to take it up with the government as “it owns the land and can do with it what it pleases.
“We were asked for our opinion, and it was negative,” he stressed.
The government “tried to pass something through in secret, and in record time so that nobody would be any wiser,” he said, but instead “it has caused the exact opposite of what they wanted and has made everyone mad.”
Xydias appealed to the president, the interior minister and the deputy minister of social welfare to withdraw the request and instead sit down in consultation with the local authorities and the public.
“If they proceed independently, they will be met with strong opposition on our part,” he added, stressing that the municipalities are not against the structures, but want the correct procedures to be followed.
When the state acts sly, like a fox, it drives its people away, he concluded.
Ayios Athanasios mayor Marinos Kyriakou also expressed strong dissatisfaction with the situation, saying that the area where the government intends to build the structures, on the border of the two municipalities, is already very busy as it hosts a cemetery, the German Oncology Centre and several school units.
Addressing concerns about the possibility of these facilities being overwhelmed with asylum seekers, Christodoulides reminded that for the first time there are more departures than arrivals of migrants on the island.
Reiterating that the government is determined to deal with the issues caused by irregular migration patterns, he said he did not think any comments were necessary “when it is not clear whether the information that exists is valid”.