Paphos Mayor Phedonas Phedonos has spoken up once more about the urgent need to deal with the housing of minor asylum seekers in the city.

In statements to media on Monday, prompted by renewed concerns and complaints from residents and shopkeepers in the adjacent area, Phedonos painted a bleak and disturbing picture of the conditions under which young adults and children are cohabiting at the facility.

“There are young girls and boys being housed with 22 and 23-year-olds, there’s drugs, there’s prostitution and pimping,” the mayor said.

The mayor recalled that the minors are housed in a small hotel in the heart of the Paphos tourist area. At the time the decision was taken – two and a half years ago – the hotel stood empty and was proposed as a solution, after the Paralimni municipality refused to take them on.

“We were given a perfunctory notice and we consented to the arrangement, which was supposed to last for two months,” the mayor noted.

Since then, a large number of the minors have come of age and are no longer minors but officially adults.

“The idea that personal data protection law prevents DNA testing is a big lie. This would be a sound way for the state services to simply ascertain [the reality of the situation] and separate minors from adults,” Phedonos argued.

According to the mayor, he had received information from the previous minister that the procedure is permissible under EU law.

The lack of clarity and proper process is endangering actual minor children who are being housed in proximity with delinquent and criminal adults, the mayor pointed out, and possibly even being trafficked.

Moreover, there are two police officers permanently stationed 24-hours outside the centre to deal with incidents, costing the state tens of thousands of euros, and this is also something to be reckoned with, Phedonos noted.

Political will is lacking to address the issue, the mayor said, decrying the state as “non-existent.”

The latest unrest at the beleaguered centre, appears to have been stirred up after a single welfare officer was taken ill with Covid, resulting in welfare payments not being made in time.

“One woman got sick, and as a result the [residents] were unable to buy food and basic necessities. How can there no [departmental] mechanism that kicks in in such an eventuality?” the mayor asked.

Deputy Welfare Minister, Marilena Evangelou for her part, speaking on CyBC radio, acknowledged the state facility in Paphos was “unsuitable” and said the state was looking to the EU to help solve the problem with efforts to reunite minors with their families in other countries as well as relocation.