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Refugees living in unsafe buildings for over 20 years

refugee house
File photo: a refugee estate

Refugee estate apartment buildings deemed unsafe over two decades ago still have people living in them, the House refugee committee heard on Tuesday.

A static adequacy study was conducted on the buildings in 2000, and they were deemed unfit, but refugees were allowed to continue living in them despite the unsafe conditions.

Acting committee headed Akel MP Christos Christofides said in 2000, the state decided to build new buildings instead of attempting to correct the issues.

The buildings in question are part of the Strovolos 2 refugee estate as well as another nine estates in Cyprus.

He added that in 2000 residents had already been living in them for about 22-23 years and since then they have been waiting 24 years and still they have not been rebuilt.

“We asked bluntly today: Can you guarantee the safety of these apartment buildings?’ Unfortunately, we have not received an answer,” he said, explaining that these apartment buildings are part of a programme that existed long before the current scheme to revamp refugee estates Ktizo.

Christofides said the committee has asked for written answers on both the security of the apartment buildings and what will be done with the property titles, as well as timelines for when these reconstruction projects will be implemented.

He added that the next session of the committee will be attended by the interior minister to discuss the Ktizo programme, but also the issue of these buildings that had been deemed inadequate before the programme was created.

Within the committee, the issue of the Strovolos 2 settlement was discussed, however, Christofides said that “the issue concerns a total of nine settlements throughout Cyprus”.

Asked why these blocks of flats were not included in Ktizo, he said that Ktizo was a specialised programme for blocks of flats which were checked in 2020.

“These were not checked in 2020 because they had to be rebuilt from 2000,” he said.

Responding to the reasons given for the delay by the ministry, he said they cited a freeze on the programme in 2013, that bids for some apartment buildings fell through, that there were delays by the sewerage company of Nicosia and the electricity authority.

“I understand all these. But we are talking about the lives and safety of hundreds of people here,” he said.

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