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Gypsies in Limassol 'explosive' situation
in Cyprus Weekly, June 14-20, 2002
By Menelaos Hadjicostis
The government is looking for new premises to house gypsies and defuse an "explosive situation" inside Limassol's Turkish Cypriot quarter as Greek Cypriots and their gypsy neighbours continue to be at each other's throats, said House Refugee Committee Chairman Aristophanes Georgiou.
"We are looking to relocate the gypsies where they will have the right to move and work, so that the more offensive aspects of their lifestyle won't affect their neighbours." said Georgiou.
Fears that daily shouting matches between some 250 gypsies and Greek Cypriots could escalate to violence was the focus of a closed-doors meeting of the House Refugee Committee on Wednesday.
Georgiou said after the meeting that the government is looking to put up three tenements on Limassol's outskirts over the next three or four months to house the gypsies.
He noted, however, that gypsies will not be forced to move there.
According to Central Intelligence Service figures, some 700 gypsies, Turkish Cypriots and Turkish nationals crossed over from the occupied areas in 2001, but that flow has been reduced to a trickle this year. Meanwhile, the Refugee Committee also decided to go ahead with amending legislation on Turkish Cypriot property to tear down decrepit houses and the lots turned over to Limassol Municipality to convert them into parks.
The Municipality already has ten such lots with another six to be turned over soon.
A plan is in the works to repair the square in front of the town's old Turkish Cypriot hospital and to hand a disused Turkish Cypriot guest house over to the local Social Welfare Council to use as it sees fit. The Cyprus Youth Board has been granted permission to make use of a defunct Turkish Cypriot cinema in the quarter.
Funds have also been earmarked for pavement construction along the quarter's streets.
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