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Gypsies to get new homes
in Cyprus Weekly, May 17-23, 2002
By Menelaos Hadjicostis
About half a dozen Turkish Cypriot gypsy families will soon be relocated to Limassol's suburbs in a bid to relieve overcrowding inside the resort's Turkish quarter which is already home to some 250 gypsies.
"Our aim is not to isolate the gypsies in remote areas, but to help them find work near urban centres so they can contribute to society," Interior Ministry Permanent Secretary Kyriakos Triantafillides told the Cyprus Weekly.
Triantafillides paid a lightning visit to the Turkish quarter on Tuesday to get a first-hand look at renovations now underway to either repair or demolish decrepit gypsy homes.
Triantafyllides said eight unsafe houses have already been torn down and another two are slated for demolition.
He added that the condition of remaining homes will be appraised to determine whether they should be levelled or renovated to accommodate other residents.
The cleared lots will be turned over to Limassol municipality which will convert them into parks. The municipality already has ten such lots with another six to be turned over soon.
Triantafyllides said 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.
The cost for the whole package of restoration works has not been estimated yet.
Limassol Mayor Demetris Kontides said he is pleased with the works aimed at rehabilitating the long-neglected quarter.
Several flare-ups of unruly behaviour by gypsies in the area over the last few months had fed up neighbours demanding either a police crackdown or the gypsies be moved somewhere else.
Approximately 900 gypsies and Turkish Cypriots now live in the government-controlled areas after abandoning the impoverished occupied north to look for work.
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