Turkish Cypriots thank Cyprus for wildfire assistance

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Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has thanked the Cyprus government after it sent two aircraft to fight a wildfire in the breakaway north of the island.

A fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter helped to battle the blaze following a request by Akinci, government spokesman Kyriakos Koushos said.

Koushos said Akinci thanked President Nicos Anastasiades for immediately responding to the call for help. Anastasiades told Akinci that he was ready to assist in “any possible way”.

Last month, Nicosia also sent medical supplies across the Green Line to help Turkish Cypriots cope with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Turkish Cypriot authorities said two Turkish firefighting aircraft are also assisting in the efforts.

Turkey also sent two firefighting helicopters to the north to help battle the raging wildfire.

The wildfire has scorched hundreds of acres of forest near the tip of Morphou Bay in the north and has forced the evacuation of dozens of people while some needed medical care.

On Monday, the Morphou fire was put under control.

The joint co-operation comes at a time when UN-led efforts to reunify the island have been in limbo since July 2017.

Meanwhile, crossing points along a 180-kilometre  UN-controlled buffer zone remain closed because of measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Although both sides have been gradually easing restrictions on movement, the crossing points remain closed.