Syrian refugees at Chloraka’s controversial studio complex under orders to shut down are calling on authorities to reconnect water supply until a court of law resolves a financial dispute between the local council and the owners, who say cuts on the property have been going on for years.
A two-month grace period ended Monday for asylum seekers in Chloraka who have been ordered to move out of Saint Nicholas studio complex due to concerns over quality of water provided by the owners.
Hundreds of refugees, families, and asylum seekers have been ordered to move out of the studio complex, after Paphos district officer Mary Lambrou issued the decree back in November 2021 with a two-month grace period given to residents to make alternative living arrangements.
The issue at hand has been questions raised over the quality of water supplied by the owners through tankers, while local leaders have also cited an interior ministry decree from December 2020 prohibiting any new foreigners from settling in the area, citing demographic changes in the area.
The decision by local authorities 'to blame us in order to punish all refugees for the actions of specific individuals is unfair treatment'
Last week police 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.
But living conditions were made more difficult for residents after a health ministry public notice was also given to the property owners, prohibiting them from supplying water from unknown sources or water of questionable quality not authorized by his department.
Local media reported that Syrian families at the studio complex have been without water since Thursday.
A deadline gave three calendar days for any objections to the public notice in which officials stated that the owners have been determined to have failed to provide water that is certified as suitable for human consumption.
But the owners quickly penned a response within the deadline and had a lawyer hand-deliver an urgent letter to Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela, asking him to exercise his executive authority to issue a decree for humanitarian purposes and list any terms and conditions to resolve the problem once and for all.
They also called on Hadjipantela to put pressure on the local council in Chloraka to reconnect water supply, saying residents could pay in advance to alleviate concerns over unpaid bills.
According to article 19 of the Unified Water Management Law of 2010 (79(I)/2010), “the Director may, in exceptional cases, enter into agreements for the supply directly to authorized consumers of water intended for human consumption.”
The owners also argued that they had settled previous water bills with the local council, which insists they still owed €150,000 for provisions between 2008 and 2018.
A peaceful demonstration was scheduled to take place on Monday morning at the Water Development Department in Yeroskipou, where Syrian refugees, families, and asylum seekers living in Chloraka will gather outside the offices at 11am.
Local media said the protesters have condemned violent incidents that recently took place in Kato Paphos and the following day in Chloraka, saying the decision by local authorities “to blame us in order to punish all refugees for the actions of specific individuals [is] unfair treatment.”
Previous 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.”