Ten asylum seekers have been arrested in Paphos district according to local reports, citing a violation of an emergency law issued last December that bans international protection applicants from residing in Chloraka.
According to local media, immigration officers and Paphos law enforcement agents carried out an operation within Chloraka town limits on Thursday afternoon, arresting ten asylum seekers in an apartment complex on suspicion they were violating a decree issued by the interior ministry.
The emergency law, which went into effect in December 2020, bans asylum seekers from residing within specific zones including the community of Chloraka, where many refugees from Syria have been known to seek affordable residence.
Local reports said there were about 4000 Greek Cypriots living in Chloraka while 1300 other residents were thought to be Syrian refugees. A nation-wide census in the Republic of Cyprus has been ordered to take place in October 2021.
Last year Interior Minister Nicos Nouris spoke of demographic changes in Chloraka and called for an “immediate response for public policy and public interest.”
The controversial decree was issued after Chloraka community leaders reached out to Nouris regarding what they described as 'conditions of Ghettoization' in their town
Police declined to comment on the operation or any detentions but told Knews Friday morning that violations of decrees and emergency laws could be arrestable offences.
The controversial decree was issued after Chloraka community leaders including local council head Nikolas Liasides reached out to Nouris regarding what they described as “conditions of Ghettoization” in their town.
“Following our concerns that we voiced publicly in the previous year regarding the excessive settlement of migrants in the Chloraka area, which resulted to the creation of ghetto conditions, we have nothing but praise for the decree… according to which no more migrants can settle in our area,” Liasides had told media.
Nouris, who has adopted a tough stance on migration, issued the executive order after officials said local residents and families said they were concerned over lack of public safety and reports of crime, including theft and drugs.
The ban was issued “because of an observed mass settlement in the community of Chloraka by applicants of international protection, and because social problems have emerged due to such mass settlement,” it was written in the decree, while also pointing to a “demographic change in the population in that community.”
According to the decree, exceptions to the ban include asylum seekers who reported a Chloraka address before the decree went into effect as well as their family members regardless of date of arrival in the Republic of Cyprus.
Local critics have cried foul over the decree, saying it included terms and concepts that promoted racial discrimination.