Government condemns attacks on migrants

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The government has condemned violent outbreaks in Chlorakas, Paphos, following a demonstration against the community’s “ghettoisation” that turned hostile.

Government spokesperson Constantinos Letymbiotis said Monday: “We cannot but condemn the incidents that occurred at Chlorakas yesterday.

“Violence and endangering public safety is not something we can accept in a well-governed state. Violence only brings violence”.

Letymbiotis argued, “It is the job of security forces to ensure public safety…dealing effectively with immigration is one of the government’s priorities”.

“The Chief of Police himself, the site, and officers at the scene were reinforced with special forces. At the same time, no one can take the law into their own hands”.

Violent incidents occurred after some 300 residents and supporters from other communities protested Sunday in a tense atmosphere under heavy police presence.

The demo ended without incident; however, participants split into smaller groups, instigating acts of malicious damage against foreign residences and cars.

In the incidents, houses and cars sustained damage, police said.

Instigators kicked in migrant front doors, while a photo of an overturned car made the rounds on social media.

Two Greek Cypriots from Paphos, aged 21 and 34 and two Syrians were arrested in connection with the disturbance.

Last week, an operation was launched to record migrants living at a disused residency complex at the centre of the dispute in Chlorakas.

The government decided to shut down the residency complex and move migrants to a facility in Kofinou, Limassol, based on a decree issued by the Paphos district officer.

According to the decree, the Ayios Nikolaos complex should have been closed for health and safety reasons.

Residents argued the complex is inhabited by more than 600 refugees living in inhuman conditions, claiming that they also stir up problems in the area.

“We are in the middle of this operation to implement the 2021 decree issued by the Paphos District officer.

“The decree will be implemented, and the building will be vacated in two weeks and sealed,” said Letymbiotis.

The government is to establish a Deputy Ministry of Migration, for which the bill has been advanced in Parliament since June.

Letymbiotis said the balance between irregular migrant arrivals and departures has been overturned for the first time in years.

“We have seen a pickup in the speed with which asylum applications are being processed, pushing down the number of pending applications,” said Letymbiotis.

Meanwhile, Opposition AKEL’s General Secretary Stefanos Stefanou told state radio CyBC that Sunday night’s events were an “organised pogrom”, blaming the violence on this and the previous government’s tolerance of “far-right racist, fanatical and anti-migration views”.