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20 July, 2024
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Christodoulides: ''We cannot accept the 28 migrants in the buffer zone''

Political wrangling and international scrutiny heighten as humanitarian needs ignite controversy over the trapped 28

Eleni Xenou

Eleni Xenou

The President of the Republic stated, "We cannot accept the 28 migrants in the buffer zone because we cannot allow the creation of a new migrant route." The government spokesman elaborated, stressing once again, "We see no mention of the root cause of this problem, namely why these 28 individuals are there." He added, "These irregular migrants have stated to the media that they passed through safe countries, namely Turkey, before ending up in the occupied territories and crossing into the buffer zone."

In contrast, Mr. Stewart insisted that "there is no plan to return them to Turkey," noting that the UN "provides them with food, water, and shelter, but this does not alleviate the harsh conditions under which they are living." The situation of the 28 migrants has become a point of contention between the President's Office and Mr. Stewart. The President's Office contends that it is not within the Canadian official's mandate to address migration issues, stating that the government is in contact with the UN High Commissioner regarding this matter.

Twenty-eight individuals - whether irregular migrants or not - are forced to endure miserable conditions in sweltering temperatures, trapped in the buffer zone with no way out

At one point in this dispute, AKEL also became involved, stating in a release, "Our past experience shows that conflicting with the UN has never yielded positive results, and thus we should avoid such confrontations." In response, the President accused AKEL of adopting Mr. Stewart's approach to migration issues, prompting AKEL to retort that the President's remarks were misleading, and urging him to address the party's criticisms rather than others' stances.

The climax occurred with the release of the Secretary-General's report on the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, in which the Secretary-General maintained a neutral stance on the events in the buffer zone. However, the report noted, "The decision by the Republic of Cyprus in May to deny access to asylum procedures for all those in the buffer zone has resulted in an increase in the number of migrants trapped there."

Why am I writing all this, which you may have already read or heard in the media? I am writing to highlight - for those who may not yet realize - the era in which we live and the extent to which it has corrupted us. Twenty-eight individuals - whether irregular migrants or not - are forced to endure miserable conditions in sweltering temperatures, trapped in the buffer zone with no way out. Yet today's politics (and politicians) dictate that we ignore their humanity and focus solely on their irregular status in our communications and political stances.

What if they are thirsty, hungry, suffering, afraid, sleepless, and generally destitute under the sun? Today's politics (and politicians), as well as the media and mainstream discourse, have become immune to such "useless sensitivities." What matters is to become as dehumanized as possible to keep pace with our times - characterized by stupidity, brutality, toxicity, and a complete inability to define what truly matters. Or, as writer Olga Tokarchuk aptly put it: "We live in an age where we fail to see that the world is becoming a collection of things and incidents, a lifeless expanse where we move about lost and alone, arranged randomly because someone else decided so, constrained by an incomprehensible fate, at the mercy of simple forces - natural, social, economic - that move us as if we were zombies. And in such a world, we are indeed gradually becoming zombies ourselves." Twenty-eight people suffer on the sidelines, yet few are genuinely speaking about them.

[This op-ed was translated from its Greek original and edited for clarity in English]

Cyprus  |  migrants  |  migration

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