Asylum center in Cyprus evacuated after violent clash erupted between Nigerians and Congolese

There was unrest among migrants residents at the  Pournara Emergency Reception Centre in south Cyprus on Friday after clashes broke out leading to its evacuation.

Police said the overcrowded reception Centre was evacuated on Friday when a riot broke out among residents in which fires were lit.

According to philenews, the unrest started around 11:20, when two groups of residents started fighting and throwing rocks at each other. Police and the fire service were called to the scene after the migrants set fire to tents.

Anti-riot police arrived the scene, fired teargas and evacuated the centre. Twenty people were injured, CyBC reported.

Thick plumes of smoke were visible over parts of the Pournara reception facility, some 22 km west of the capital Nicosia.

Police confirmed this to the Cyprus Mail, saying that due to smoke in the air, some people exited the camp in order to be able to breathe.

“A number of tents were burnt…the situation has now calmed down,” a police spokesman also told Reuters.

According to reports, the two groups that were fighting were Nigerian and Congolese, and that they threw rocks and other objects at each other.

Speaking about the clashes that broke out at the reception centre, Police Chief Stelios Papatheodorou said that they had increased measures lately at Pournara, and that the clashes broke out to the migrant centre’s overcrowding.

“Members of the force are doing whatever they possibly can to protect the area and the refugees and migrant living at the reception centre,” he said.

Police said clashes appeared to have broken out between the two groups in the centre. The fires were extinguished by the fire brigade but sporadic clashes continued, police said.

Pournara has been hosting well over its 1,000 person capacity as Cyprus struggles to cope with an influx of asylum seekers from Syria and from African countries.

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