Asylum seekers flee overcrowded reception center in Cyprus

(Xinhua) 11:14, October 29, 2022

NICOSIA, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of asylum seekers fled the main reception center in Cyprus for irregular migrants after a fire broke out there amid clashes, local police said on Friday.

Chief of Police Stelios Papatheodorou said a large force of regular and anti-riot police officers was trying to contain the situation at the overcrowded Pournara reception center, some 20 kilometers west of the capital Nicosia.

"The police force is doing whatever is possible to protect both residents of communities in the region and the migrants themselves," state CyBC radio quoted him as saying.

CyBC said the reception center was evacuated after people started to hurl rocks at each other and set prefabricated buildings and tents on fire.

The police used teargas to control marauding crowds. Twenty people were hurt, including three security officers. Three asylum seekers were taken to hospital. About 20 tents were destroyed.

Police said that large groups of asylum seekers fled the center and were moving towards nearby communities in the area.

The Pournara center was designed to host up to 1,000 people, but reports said the actual number of people living there is much higher.

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris has said that the authorities have been struggling to cope with a large influx of asylum seekers this year. He said that 17,000 people had arrived through irregular channels in Cyprus up to last week, double the number of arrivals during the same period of 2021. 

(Web editor: Xue Yanyan, Liang Jun)


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