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12° Nicosia,
19 May, 2022
 
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Interior ministry evicts migrants on Christmas Eve

Asylum seekers become homeless after decree bypasses Cypriot court to order eviction from unlawful hostel

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Asylum seekers from Africa have been ordered by an executive order to abandon their place of residence in an industrial area south of Nicosia, with the landlord asking authorities on Christmas Eve to allow time until tenants can find a new roof over their heads.

(Click here for an update to the story)

Eviction procedures ordered by the Interior Ministry in the Republic of Cyprus began just before Christmas, targeting foreign nationals thought to be mostly asylum seekers from African countries who rent rooms at an industrial building in Nisou, south of the capital.

Local authorities point to a number of zoning law violations including sanitation, ventilation, and fire code, with letters going back and forth between agencies

According to SigmaLive, which reported on Monday that dozens of foreign nationals have been living in unauthorized dwellings, local officials have been calling on government agencies to take action.

The building, which was built on land owned by Turkish Cypriots under authorization by the Interior Ministry, has been the subject of debate for years. The first zoning violation at the building was recorded in 2004 with reports saying the property owner at some point was renting out the structure to be used as a music venue.

But it was not until late November 2021 raid when officers discovered more than 30 asylum seekers in the building, where the second floor had been modified with dozens of small studios on the second floor that were rented out to asylum seekers, mostly from African countries.

Local authorities point to a number of zoning law violations including sanitation, ventilation, and fire code, with letters going back and forth between agencies.

The property owner says he has not been notified by any state agency or local authorities following the inspection, while confirming consultations have been taking place about a land use change.

But this week Interior Minister Nicos Nouris sought a consultation with the state’s attorney general on the issue, with reports saying an executive eviction order has been issued calling on all tenants to abandon the building.

On Friday Christmas Eve state agents handed the property owner an eviction order by power of ministerial decree, signed by Nicosia assistant district officer Lambrini Ghogaki.

The order, which cited the Regulation of Roads and Buildings Law, called for the closure of the second floor as well as banning its use as “unsuitable for human habitation due to conditions of poor ventilation and because it is dangerous due to fire protection liabilities.”

“The decree shall remain in effect until appropriate measures at the structure (reconstruction, renovation, or maintenance) take place in accordance with a manner as specified by the relevant authority,” the order stated.

A comment on social media posted by the property owner, who has been in the process of catching up with zooming laws through a variety of agencies, said they were ready to cooperate with authorities.

Owner calls for some time to allow tenants to find new place

“We have decided to suspend our work in order to receive the recommendations and instructions from the authorities as well as to make all the necessary changes that may be pointed out to us,” he wrote.

According to Sigma, it was understood that the eviction order did not go through a district judge. Ather the media outlet received complaints from citizens and reported on the story, it also said said Nouris received the okay from Attorney General George Savvides earlier this week to issue a decree.

But the property owner, who says he has been in the process of catching up with zooming laws through a variety of agencies, also called for some time to be allowed for tenants to find new accommodation. He also called on social services to offer help if needed.

The eviction order was effective on the date of delivery, on Christmas Eve.

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