Dom Research Center   News Clippings: Cyprus


Gypsies return to north
in The Cyprus Weekly, 2001

by Menelaos Hadjicostia

Turkish Cypriot gypsies living in the Paphos district, since crossing over from the occupied north two months ago, are slowly trickling back as Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou again boasted about his "get tough" approach.

Christodoulou said that in addition to 26 gypsies, who made a quick dash for the occupied areas last month, a further 10 last week gathered their belongings and made the return trip.

"The government's steadfast policy is that gypsies will cease to be treated like tourists... Welfare allowances and hotel accommodations were cut months ago," said Christodoulou.

Those who crossed over last month said they wanted to go back, because they could not find work in the free areas and because hopes they would automatically be housed and given monthly welfare benefits of CYP 150 each had been dashed.

A total of 154 gypsies crossed over from the north in March and April to escape the economic drudgery of a bankrupt occupation regime. Most of them settled in Paphos and were put up in former Turkish Cypriot homes.

Despite vehement denials of prejudice or xenophobia, Paphos residents had voiced fears that the town could be turned into a gypsy dumping ground.

Gypsies have to prove that they are of Turkish Cypriot origin to be allowed to remain in the free areas, following fears that they could be harbouring spies among them. Christodoulou said gypsies who make a U-turn back to the free areas will have to prove they are Turkish Cypriots all over again and be assigned housing in areas selected by authorities.

"From that point on, it's up to them to find work and behave as other Cypriot citizens do," he said. Three gypsies who have been identified as mainland Turks remain in detention at a facility adjacent to the Central Prison where they await deportation along with their families.

A permanent compound to house gypsies and illegal immigrants is being constructed at an undisclosed location between the villages of Kotsiatis and Marki.

Some 38 Turkish-Cypriot gypsies who had been held in Central Prison remand cells last month until they could be identified, were released hours after Attorney General Alecos Markides kicked up a fuss over allegations they were being illegally detained.


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