COVID19: Turkish Cypriot workers want to cross Green Line

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Some 1525 Turkish Cypriot builders who live in the Turkish occupied north but work in the Cyprus Republic, appealed to President Nicos Anastasiades to allow them to cross over when their jobs reopen.

A majority of 1525 that signed an open letter to President Anastasiades are employed in the construction sector in the government-controlled south.

Construction sites are expected to among the first to reopen on 4 May during the first stage of relaxing restrictive measures taken to stem the spread of coronavirus.

In the letter sent to Anastasiades and Greek Cypriot media, the group claim that they have no income as they depended on their wage from companies in the south and do not pay social insurance in the north.

This makes them ineligible for support packages from Turkish Cypriot authorities.

The group of workers said they have not been able to work since some crossing points were sealed off on 14 March followed by Turkish Cypriot authorities closing all crossings.

They are not able to receive financial support from the Cyprus government as nothing passes across the Green Line.

The Turkish Cypriots argue that not being able to return to work, once construction sites are reopened would be disastrous for them and their families.

They pleaded with Anastasiades to look into their plight, as daily COVID-19 cases on both sides of the divide have dropped.

“We need money to live. If businesses open up and we can’t go back to work, a lot of people will lose their jobs, which will be catastrophic for us at a time when finding work is almost impossible,” said the letter.

Reportedly, opening the crossings and other points of entry to the Republic such as airports is not on the government’s agenda for now.

It is believed that reopening crossing points will take place further down the line, sometime towards the end of summer.

Politis daily, quoting official sources, said the government will examine the issue, noting that these people will have priority when it comes to relaxing measures regarding the crossings.