The Cypriot government has taken a firm stance on public security by ordering the deportation of 28 asylum seekers following recent disturbances at a key migrant shelter on the Mediterranean island. These events unfolded on Wednesday, when authorities declared the individuals a threat to public order after violent clashes broke out at the Pournara center near Nicosia, primarily involving African and Syrian nationals.
In response to the chaos that erupted on Monday evening, the police, on Tuesday, detained 33 people. This move comes as a part of a broader effort to maintain peace and order within migrant communities. The deportation decisions for the 28 refugees are set to be carried out in the coming days, as reported by the Cyprus News Agency, quoting Margarita Kyriacou, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior.
Riot police were compelled to use tear gas to disperse the brawls among the migrants. Eight individuals sustained minor injuries during the clashes and were subsequently hospitalized for first aid before being discharged.
The investigation into the exact causes of the incident continues, with local newspaper “Phileleftheros” suggesting a football match between Nigerian and Syrian refugees as a possible trigger for the violence.
While the police have since regained control of the situation, the extent of the property damage incurred remains to be assessed.
Cyprus has long recorded one of the highest rates of first-time asylum applications within the European Union. According to official figures, these applicants constitute six percent of the southern island’s population of 915,000 — a record number for EU member states.
Recently, the Cypriot government has doubled the capacity of the Pournara center, which was initially designed to accommodate 1,000 individuals. This expansion was a reaction to the influx of over 500 Syrian migrants from Lebanon, following the outbreak of hostilities between Israel and Hamas on October 7.
The case of Cyprus serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing challenges that the EU faces in terms of immigration and asylum, highlighting the delicate balance between humanitarian aid and the maintenance of public order.