Government restoring public safety after racist violence

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The government’s primary concern is public safety and implementing Cabinet decisions, particularly in Chlorakas, where clashes erupted between locals and migrants, government spokesperson Konstantinos Letymbiotis said Wednesday.

In statements after the Cabinet meeting, chaired by President Nikos Christodoulides, Letymbiotis said there was a strong police presence in Chloraka, pledging “we will do our utmost to safeguard public safety.”

“It is of utmost importance to take measures to prevent similar incidents as those that took place during the last days”.

Asked about evacuating residential buildings where migrants resided illegally, Letymbiotis said the procedures will be followed for those living illegally in the Republic of Cyprus.

Asylum seekers were transferred to the Kofinou Reception and Accommodation Centre, where they were allowed to leave if they wanted to.

Moreover, Letymbiots said the Interior Minister briefed the Cabinet on Wednesday regarding the updated data on migration and the course for implementing the plan to address the asylum issue.

He noted that as a result of the number of people examining asylum applications has doubled, the whole process has speeded up compared to last year.

Last year, approximately 1,000 applications were examined each month; this year, 1800 applications are examined monthly.

Letymbiotis said the number of returns has almost doubled through the special court established to examine applications quickly.

He said concrete measures have been taken to reduce arrivals, and a relevant awareness campaign is taking place in third countries such as Congo, Cameroon and Nigeria.

Lebymbiotis noted that arrivals have fallen by 55% during the last four months compared to last year, and asylum applications in 2023 dropped by 53% compared to 2022.

Infrastructure is being upgraded with work already underway at Pournara First Reception Centre costing €25 million.

“We hope they will be completed by October to solve problems and improve the conditions”.

Once new infrastructure is completed, he said Cyprus will have the potential to examine 1,000 applications and for 1,000 people to depart from the island every three weeks.

He said the government is taking measures to combat undeclared work and the trafficking of migrants.

Police arrested 21 people on Monday and used tear gas and a water cannon after a group of Greek Cypriots wearing hoods and brandishing bats tried to attack protesting Syrians in Chlorakas.

Police said Tuesday parallel protests by some 250 Syrians and an equal number of Greek Cypriots Monday evening degenerated into violence, as smaller numbers of protesters from both groups began setting fire to garbage bins.