Migrants clash again in southern Cyprus, two injured

At least five migrant minors were slightly injured during a row that happened on Friday afternoon in Paphos, southern Cyprus, two of whom were taken to Paphos hospital A&E for treatment.

The incident happened when the two groups of unaccompanied minors (people under the age of 18) got into a physical altercation during a game of football. Anti-riot police intervened to break up the fight at a hotel in the King of the Tombs area.

Greek Cypriot police managed to stop the situation from escalating, remaining at the scene until the early hours of Saturday.

Following the incident, the Mayor of Paphos, Phedon Phedonos on Saturday, called for talks at the presidential palace to discuss migration.

According to report by Cyprus mail, the mayor first posted videos on his Facebook page showing youngsters throwing plastic chairs as they chased each other around the pool and outside the hotel, posing the question: “This is what happens at the hotel in Paphos where unaccompanied minors are hosted. There are political responsibilities for the failure of the state to manage this issue. Will anyone shoulder them? Surely not.”

He then made statements to the media, calling for a high-level meeting with the participation of local authorities and urging the government to implement effective policies since, he argued, migration flows and thousands of asylum-seekers would remain an issue for the next 10 to 20 years.

The mayor stressed that he was not xenophobic, but said parties, government, the ministers and the president himself must all address the issue.

Cyprus has been struggling to cope with a surge in irregular migrants, many of them from African countries who cross into the country from the buffer zone.  Many are housed in over-stretched reception facilities in torrid conditions.

The minors involved in Friday’s incident were taken to Paphos in recent weeks after an uproar over the conditions they were living in at the Pournara facility.  An initial plan to take them to the Famagusta area collapsed after the hotel there withdrew its interest amid complaints from the mayor that it would damage tourism.

Phedonos said that when he was asked whether the town of Paphos could accept these unaccompanied minors without protest, he had replied in the affirmative, even though reports indicate that some are not underage, as he thought they were young children fleeing war.

But since they were taken to the hotel in Paphos, they do not appear to be under the responsibility of social workers, or to be receiving an education, nor did it appear that any effort was being made to teach them Greek, he added.

Moreover, residents in the area have been complaining since the minors were relocated there, the mayor said.

Phedonos also cited the latest population census which showed that 38 per cent of the population of Paphos district in 2021 were foreign nationals. “With what is happening in the past six months the figure has gone up to 40 per cent,” he added. The 40 per cent includes Pontian Greeks and others from Europe and third countries who have been living in Paphos for 30 to 40 years, have learnt Greek and have been assimilated, he noted.

Paphos was sounding the alarm, as it could not cope with additional inflow and central planning was essential, he concluded.

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