Cyprus to deport troublemakers at migrant camp

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The government intends to proceed with the immediate deportation of those who took part in violent clashes at the Pournara Reception Center, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said.

He visited the migrant centre at the weekend to examine the situation following clashes among asylum seekers on Friday.

During the incidents, a fire broke out in the camp, with hundreds fleeing to the nearby Nicosia village of Kokkinotrimithia but have since returned.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze after riot police restored order at the camp.

The minister told CNA that the photos of 160 people in quarantine were given to the police after the asylum service identified them.

“At the moment, an attempt is being made to identify them with the footage from the Center’s cameras, to see if and to what extent they are involved in the incidents.”

Nouris said the police would detain those identified, and the process for their immediate deportation would be launched.

“A message must be sent to those who cause these problems because it is impossible to host them in a country under any circumstances and be constantly called to resolve differences between various nationalities”.

He said the violence erupted after Nigerian and Congolese nationals disagreed about whose turn it was to charge their mobile phone.

Asked whether this was an indication of the problems caused by overcrowding at the camp, he agreed this was the main cause of the problem.

The Pournara reception centre was designed to host up to 1,000 people, but it holds more than double that number.

During his visit, Nouris said that he was informed that the 15 or so tents that were burned by the fire were being repaired.

Nouris said that efforts are being made to speed up the completion of the new fencing, a project with a cost of €1.2 mln, scheduled to start in two to three weeks, creating a double-fence perimeter.

The project was scheduled to be completed in March, but after the latest developments, Nouris said that he will have contacts “to speed up the implementation of the project.”

In March, a report by the Cypriot children’s rights commissioner described chronic overcrowding, woeful bathroom facilities and reports of meagre food rations in the Pournara camp, prompting officials to vow to work to improve conditions.