Some 8,000 earthquake victims have sought refuge in the Turkish-occupied north of the island following the devasting quake that hit Turkey and Syria last month, according to Turkish Cypriot media.
News outlet Halkin Sesi reported that despite officials claiming less than 2,000 quake victims entered the north, their numbers are four times higher.
“While contradictory statements were made regarding the number of victims affected by the earthquakes in Turkey and came to the ‘TRNC’, according to the information we obtained, 7, 895 earthquake victims came to the country between 7 February and 4 March 2023,” reported Halkin Sesi.
In previous days, Turkish Cypriot officials gave contradicting numbers to the media.
Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said there were 5,000 quake victims in the north, while the head of the ruling coalition Unal Ustel said last week that only 1,500 people had sought refuge.
The north’s social security office said there were 3,800, while municipal authorities said they had recorded 4,000.
Halkin Sesi quoted ‘official documents’ which they had acquired, noting that 1,802 of the people seeking refuge were children that have enrolled in schools in the north.
According to Halkin Sesi, 64% of the refugees are from the Hatay region in Turkey, which felt the brunt of the 7.8 quake on 6 February.
Earthquake victims arriving from Turkey asking for help can be granted temporary residence permits like tourist visas, and under exceptional circumstances, they will be allowed to work.
Meanwhile, the death toll in Turkey and Syria has surpassed 50,000, while aftershocks have been shaking the region since the major quake.