The Cypriot president says his government will work to make conditions at an overcrowded migrant camp ‘more humane’ following criticism that living conditions for more than 350 unaccompanied minors there are inadequate
NICOSIA, Cyprus – The Cypriot president pledged on Monday to make conditions at an overcrowded migrant camp “more humane” following criticism that conditions there for more than 350 unaccompanied minors were inadequate.
President Nicos Anastasiades said after a brief visit to Pournara camp, on the outskirts of the capital Nicosia, that any “gaps” in the camp resulting from an influx of migrants will be “dealt with accordingly”.
Children’s rights commissioner Despo Michalidou last week described conditions in the camp as “miserable”, including poor food and a lack of sanitation facilities.
Anastasiades said hardship was to be expected when almost 5% of the population of the ethnically divided Mediterranean island nation are asylum seekers. He said Cyprus had the highest number of asylum applications per capita among the 27 countries of the European Union.
Interior Minister Nicos Nouris announced on Monday that 92 of Pournara’s 356 children have already been relocated to hotels while accommodation for another 150 will soon be found. He said overcrowding in Pournara will be eased once migrants are moved to a newly built reception center 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the capital.
Cyprus was divided along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkey invaded Turkey following a coup by supporters of union with Greece. The Cypriot government accuses Turkey and the dissident Turkish Cypriot authorities in the north of orchestrating the arrival of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and elsewhere to seek asylum on the island.
Cypriot officials say 85% of all asylum seekers first arrive in the north and cross the porous UN-controlled buffer zone to seek asylum in the south.
The EU is committed to helping the Cypriot government deal with its migration issues.
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