The UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (Unficyp) on Thursday said it was raising its concerns with the government of Cyprus over the “growing humanitarian situation” they are facing inside the buffer zone where over 30 asylum seekers have set up camps, one near Nicosia and one near Akaki.

Unficyp said in a short statement that maintaining security across the buffer zone and keeping the situation calm remain the force’s top priority.

The force, it added, “in close collaboration with the Unhcr” was providing immediate humanitarian assistance including food, water, shelter and emergency medical assistance to the most vulnerable people including many women and children.

“Unficyp understands concerns in relation to irregular crossings of the buffer zone,” the statement said.

However, it added that as called for in a Unhcr statement on Wednesday, “asylum seekers must be given unhindered access to asylum procedures as provided under national, European, and international refugee law”.

“We are raising our concerns with the Republic of Cyprus to address the growing humanitarian situation we are facing inside the UN buffer zone,” it concluded.

On Wednesday, the Unhcr said it was “alarmed” for the safety of 31 migrants who set up the camps in the buffer zone over the past two weeks or so. It said the Cyprus government was denying them the procedures to apply for asylum. Out of the 31 individuals, seven are children, the agency said.

Despite being provided with food, water, clothing, and basic facilities by Unficyp with the Unhcr’s support, the international organisation said the people in the buffer zone were living in precarious conditions in tents exposed to extreme temperatures exceeding 40C in recent days.

Cyprus is offering emergency medical care at state hospitals but the government fears that by granting access to the asylum seekers to the Republic, it would open the floodgates to numbers coming from the north if seen as a viable route into the EU.

Both the UN and the EU say Cyprus must apply and enforce international law and it must be applied in the areas of Cyprus where the government can enforce its legislation, including the UN-controlled buffer zone.