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More gypsies cross over from the occupied areas
in The Cyprus Weekly, Sept. 28-Oct. 4, 2001

by Athena Karsera

A NEW group of Turkish Cypriot gypsies from the occupied areas crossed over into the government controlled part of Cyprus on Tuesday. The group of 16, five men, five women and six children aged 1-15, had been settled in Morphou and now want to live in Paphos. The group crossed over in Xylotymbou and flagged down a bus at Ayios Raphael. A police patrol stopped the bus at the Pyla turn-off, on the Dhekelia to Aradippou highway and gave instructions for the group to be taken to the Oroklini police station. Once their identity papers had been checked, arrangements were made with the Welfare Services for the Turkish Cypriots to be taken to an undisclosed, mainly Turkish Cypriot village in Paphos, as they had requested.

The gypsies did not specify why they had left the occupied areas, but similar groups have been crossing over in recent years in search of a better standard of living. Many return after a time, with almost half of a wave of 155 that had crossed over in March and April this year, going back by June.

Most of them had been settled in empty Turkish Cypriot homes in the Paphos district where the majority of those who decided to stay, remain. However, many left after Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou in May pulled the plug on perks such as hotel accommodation and monthly welfare benefits of CYP 150 for each gypsy. The move followed fears that the arrival of more and more gypsies would put an unbearable strain on state funds. At the time, Christodoulou said that gypsies would from then on be treated in the same way as other Cypriot citizens, although many of the Turkish Cypriots have complained of not finding work.

Gypsies have to prove that they are of Turkish Cypriot origin to be allowed to remain in the free areas, as applied to those that had come in the past. A permanent compound to temporarily house gypsies and illegal immigrants while they are being processed is being constructed at an undisclosed location between the villages of Kotsiatis and Makri.

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