Paphos officials are seeking ways to convince asylum seekers at a controversial studio complex in Chloraka to move out, with reports saying residents have been told they would lose their refugee assistance unless they agree by the end of the month to relocate at a migrant facility.
Syrian refugees at Chloraka’s Saint Nicholas apartments, a water-deprived studio complex under orders to shut down, protested on Monday and called on authorities to reconnect water supply until a court of law resolves a financial dispute between the local council and the owners.
The protest took place on Monday which was the deadline of a two-month grace period given by Paphos district officer Mary Lambrou, who issued a ban on the property back in November 2021 citing concerns over the quality of water supplied through weekly tanker deliveries.
But police last week said during a meeting at the Legal Department that they would not enforce the eviction order as it had not been signed by a judge.
According to local media, social welfare officials have been knocking on doors at Saint Nicholas, offering alternative living arrangements at two migrant facilities, a migrant camp in Larnaca for families and an adjacent deportation facility for single males where asylum seekers await adjudication of their applications.
Some tenants have moved out while the majority are refusing to leave, including individuals deemed ineligible to receive benefits based on a December 2020 decree that banned new foreigners in the area
Social welfare officials have reportedly warned residents that their monthly refugee assistance would be terminated on January 31 if they did not accept the relocation offer by the deadline.
Reports said dozens of residents have already moved out of the property while the majority of tenants are refusing to leave, including dozens of individuals who were deemed ineligible to receive benefits based on a December 2020 decree that banned new foreigners from establishing domicile in the area.
Living conditions have been made more difficult for residents after a health ministry public notice was given last week to the property owners, prohibiting them from supplying water from unknown sources or water of questionable quality not authorized by the ministry’s departments.
But the property owners say water cuts have been going on for years at the property following a dispute with the local council in Chloraka, with reports saying the case is stuck in a Paphos court.
The property owners say the issue could be resolved and have called on Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela to exercise his executive power to pressure local authorities with a decree for humanitarian purposes or list any terms and conditions to resolve the water problem once and for all.
Local council officials say they want the property shut down altogether and tenants move out of the area, citing ghetto conditions and change in local demographics.
Protesters during Monday's demonstration condemned violent incidents that recently took place in Kato Paphos and the following day in Chloraka, saying the decision by local authorities to punish all refugees for the actions of specific individuals was "unfair treatment.”
Previous anti-migrant protests took place after a series of arrests following altercations between foreign groups, with local demonstrators saying they wanted to “root out ghettos" in the community and calling for “illegals out of Chloraka.”
In early 2020, Interior Minister Nikos Nouris defended a government policy to round up asylum seekers, saying they should remain at a specific location but he stopped short of describing it as detention.
Saint Nicholas tenants have until Friday to decide on the state's relocation offer after officials said they would visit the complex on January 21 to hear their decisions.