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Politics

President Anastasiades Vows “More Humane” Migrant Camp Conditions

NICOSIA — The president of Cyprus pledged Monday to make conditions at an overcrowded migrant reception camp “more humane” following criticism that living arrangements for more than 350 unaccompanied minors were inadequate.

President Nicos Anastasiades said after a brief visit to the Pournara camp on Nicosia’s outskirts that any “deficiencies” at the camp that arose as a result of a a continuing influx of migrants will be “dealt with accordingly.”

Migrants stand behind the fence during Cyprus’ president Nicos Anastasiades visit the Pournara migrant reception center in Kokkinotrimithia outside of capital Nicosia, Cyprus, on Monday, March 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Anastasiades said difficulties are to be expected when nearly 5% of the ethnically split island nation’s population are asylum-seekers. He said Cyprus continues to be first for the number of asylum applications per capita among European Union member states.

The Cypriot President said a “large number of migrants” has already been relocated from the camp and that a meeting of ministers and top civil servants later Monday will come up with ways of finding alternative accommodation for the unaccompanied minors.

Last week, Commissioner for Children’s Rights Despo Michalidou said that conditions for unaccompanied minors at the camp were “miserable,” including poor food and a lack of sanitation facilities.

Migrants stand behind a fence during Cyprus’ president Nicos Anastasiades visit the Pournara migrant reception center in Kokkinotrimithia outside of capital Nicosia, Cyprus, on Monday, March 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Anastasiades denied that the food is inadequate but noted a lack of a warm breakfast drink which he called a “serious omission.”

Cyprus was split along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of union with Greece. The Cypriot government accuses Turkey and breakaway Turkish Cypriot authorities in the north of orchestrating the arrival of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and elsewhere to seek asylum on the island.

Cypriot officials say some 85% of all asylum applicants first arrive in the north and cross the porous, United Nations-controlled buffer zone to seek asylum in the south where the internationally recognized government is seated.

The European Union has pledged financial and material support to the Cypriot government.

 

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