Cyprus to deport 28 asylum seekers after camp riot

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Cypriot authorities said that 28 mainly African asylum seekers would be deported on public order offences after a riot at the island’s main migrant reception centre.

Some 33 people were arrested at the camp after fighting broke out between mainly African nationals and Syrians on Monday.

Riot police were called to quell a disturbance on Monday evening at Pournara camp, where tear gas was used against migrants after clashes.

Interior Ministry spokesperson Margarita Kyriakou told the official Cyprus News Agency that deportation orders have been issued against 28 people and will be activated in the coming days.

She said evidence is being collected against five Syrians who were arrested during the trouble for a court hearing.

Cypriot newspaper Philelftheros said Wednesday that tempers flared between Nigerians and Syrians when the ball burst during a football game at the camp.

Eight migrants were slightly injured during the fighting and were taken to hospital to receive first aid and released.

In October 2022, riots sent people fleeing from the camp, located just outside the capital, Nicosia.

Cyprus is a frontline country on the Mediterranean migrant route, having long reported one of the highest rates of first-time asylum seekers in the European Union.

According to official figures, asylum-seekers comprise 6% of the 915,000 population in the government-controlled south of the island –- a record figure across the EU.

The government recently doubled the 1,000 capacity of Pournara after an influx of over 500 Syrian migrants from Lebanon since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7.