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Minister pledges tougher policing of gypsy areas
in Cyprus Mail, Thursday, April 18, 2002
By George Psyllides
THE GOVERNMENT yesterday ordered stricter policing of the old Turkish Cypriot quarter of Limassol after residents complained gypsies living in the area were making their lives a misery. The situation is so bad that Greek Cypriot residents are scared to go out at night, the House Refugee Committee heard yesterday. Interior Minister Christodoulou responded last night by pledging stricter policing and warning gypsies they would lose their benefit payments if they did not abide by civilised norms of behaviour. Residents of the area, in their overwhelming majority refugees from the 1974 invasion, told the committe earlier yesterday that Turkish Cypriot gypsies created huge problems with their behaviour, and urged the government to make good on its promises of moving them out.
The problem has become worse in the past year, with the gypsy population in the area increasing fivefold, the residents said. An intelligence service (KYP) official claimed that the increase in gypsy arrivals was part of a policy by the occupation regime to get rid of them.
One resident said gypsies drove their cars recklessly, without license or insurance, damaged other vehicles, cursed and threatened, and that people were afraid to go out during the night. Another resident urged the Interior Ministry to move the gypsies as promised, arguing that residents were not racists but were gradually being turned into such. The residents said the roads in the area were dirty and infested with rats, while one claimed that gypsies slaughtered animals and threw their entrails into the streets. Limassol District Officer Andreas Roussos replied the gypsies were citizens of the Republic and the state was obliged to provide them with housing. Confirming there had been an increase in the number of gypsies, Christodoulou urged caution in how the authorities reacted to the emotive issue. "This is very sensitive issue, which could cause us untold damage, especially in Europe, if we give the impression that we are discriminating, that we are not giving the gypsies the same rights as other citizens of the Republic."
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