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More gypsies cross into Republic
in The Cyprus Review, March 30, 2001
by Netha Kreouzos
Another 15 gypsies crossed into the Republic from the occupied areas yesterday, bringing to 64 the number of gypsies
seeking to live in government controlled areas over the last month.
The 15 new arrivals were taken to Paphos, where they said they had relatives who had told them of work in the area. The authorities in Paphos assigned the gypsies to permanent residences, as well as providing them with financial support to meet their immediate needs.
Earlier this week, Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said the "desperate" economic and social conditions in the occupied areas had driven 49 gypsies living in the north to cross into government-controlled areas. "There is no doubt that the arrival of these gypsies is due to the fact that economic and social conditions in the occupied areas are tragic and dramatic," he said.
On Monday, a group of 27 gypsies including 14 children was spotted in the Peristerona area of Paphos. Police took them to a hotel in the town after determining that they were Cypriot citizens. They were then taken to former Turkish Cypriot and mixed villages in Paphos, where they were given Turkish Cypriot homes to live in.
According to police, the gypsies said they had come from the Morphou area in the occupied areas and had crossed over to the government-controlled areas at Astromeritis in the Nicosia District. Christodoulou said instructions had been given to the Paphos District Officer and police to provide them with shelter until permanent residences could be found for them.
Christodoulou said that some of the gypsies who had crossed into government-controlled areas earlier this year but later returned to the north claiming they had been mistreated, were among those who arrived in the last two weeks. An investigative committee is examining their claims of mistreatment.
The first group of ten gypsies arrived on March 7 through the British Bases at Dhekelia, followed by a second group of around 12 people on March 23. The first group was settled in Limassol, while the second was taken to Paphos.
Christodoulou stressed that the government has an obligation under the constitution and international treaties and conventions to treat the gypsies as Cypriot citizens. Christodoulou maintained that the arrival of the gypsies in government-controlled areas was an indication of conditions in the occupied areas. "Even these gypsies, who do not demand a lot from life, are not happy with the conditions they have to live in," he said.
He said fears that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was deliberately driving the gypsies to government-controlled areas were being investigated but said he did not think there would be a mass exodus from the north to the Republic.
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