February 3, 2023

Clashes break out, fires lit at overcrowded Cyprus migrant centre | Migration News


Clashes appear to have broken out between two groups in the reception centre, according to police.

Police have fired tear gas after clashes broke out and fires were lit at an overcrowded reception centre for migrants in Cyprus, according to police and witnesses.

At least one person needed a hospital treatment after being injured on Friday at the Pournaras reception facility, about 22km (14 miles) west of the capital, Nicosia.

People hurled rocks and objects at each other, forcing many to flee in panic, and firefighters rushed to extinguish a blaze that sent billowing smoke into the sky. Tensions later “calmed”, a police said.

Migrants watch a fire outside Pournara refugee camp during clashes in Kokkinotrimithia on the outskirts of Nicosia
Migrants watch a fire outside Pournara refugee camp during clashes [Yiannis Kourtoglou/Reuters]

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

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

Cypriot news outlet Philenews said clashes broke between asylum seekers from Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, two of the largest migrant groups in Cyprus.

Overcrowded centres

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

Many travel to the southern part of the island, controlled by the internationally recognised government of ethnically split Cyprus, through a buffer zone that separates it from the Turkish Cypriot-controlled area.

Authorities in Nicosia last week said this year alone, 17,000 people had entered their jurisdiction through irregular channels. There were 12,285 in the whole of 2021.

A migrant walks next to burned tents in Pournara refugee camp during clashes in Kokkinotrimithia on the outskirts of Nicosia
A migrant walks next to burned tents in Pournara refugee camp [Yiannis Kourtoglou/Reuters]



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