Police officers in Nicosia had to intervene when an asylum seeker, who was asking migration staff to hand over his passport, doused himself with gasoline and threatened to set himself on fire.
According to local media, a 26-year-old asylum seeker went to the Civil Registry and Migration Department on Wednesday morning in downtown Nicosia to request that his passport be handed back but ended up dousing himself with gasoline out of frustration after staff did not return his document.
The man, described as an African male, had been unsuccessful in getting his travel documents back from Migration.
But police told Knews the man’s passport was not actually kept in the building in question, adding they were notified about an agitated male who was outside the Migration office with gasoline on his clothes and threatening to set himself on fire.
Many asylum seekers in Cyprus have found themselves homeless and without money due to red tape delays, after a crowded migration camp was deemed to be unsuitable
“It seems that he left the area only to return later outside the building where he apparently doused himself with gasoline,” a police communications officer told Knews.
The man started to have rashes and a burning sensation but he was not injured, police said, adding that officers took him to a nearby station and sat down with him to figure out a solution to his problem.
Details in the case were not immediately known but police said officers spoke with the man and then called Migration staff to mediate.
Migration officials in the Republic of Cyprus are known for routinely withholding passports and travel documents of asylum seekers while applications are pending. Immigration administrators work for the interior ministry while immigration police fall under law enforcement.
“We made arrangements with immigration staff for the passport to be handed to police and then we can go from there,” the officer told Knews, adding that the asylum seeker had made up his mind to return to his home country.
Many asylum seekers in Cyprus have found themselves homeless and without money due to red tape delays, after a migration camp in Pournara, rural Nicosia, was deemed to be crowded and insufficient to house applicants.
The asylum seeker in this case was not living at Pournara but it was not clear whether he was homeless or wanted to reunite with family members elsewhere.
A European Union law, the Dublin Regulation, allows asylum seekers in Cyprus to request local authorities to have their application transferred to another EU country in cases where family members reside elsewhere.