Cyprus Anti-Migrant Violence: Reconciliation Efforts Needed

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 2 Oct 2023

René Wadlow – TRANSCEND Media Service

28 Sep 2023 – To highlight the calls of Pope Francis in Marseille calling for humanitarian efforts for migrants, there was a wave of anti-migrant violence in southern Cyprus in September.  Cyprus, in practice, is divided into two. A northern section, about 1/3 of the island is under the control of the Turkish military since 1974 and thus depends on policies of the Turkish government.  A southern section with 75 percent of the population is largely inhabited by people of Greek descent.  The economy is closely tied to that of Greece, but the Greek government as such has relatively little influence on current politics in Cyprus. It is in the southern section, especially the port city of Linassol where the anti-migrant violence took place.

There have been refugees and migrants going to Cyprus since the 1970s and the civil war conditions in Lebanon (1975-1990)  More recently, there have been a good number of Syrians after the fighting broke out (2011 and ongoing). In addition there are people from Sub-Saharan Africa pushed by persistent poverty and the consequences of climate change.  There are also a good number of people from Tunisia as government policies there have hardened.

It is not clear what set off the September violence.  There are always tensions toward migrants and refugees, but in general conditions in Cyprus were not tense. In Greece, there was a Right Wing movement, the Golden Dawn, which preached an anti-migrant ideology.  For a while, it was structured as a political party but has now been banned.  Its ideology, however, continues.  I do not know to what extent the Golden Dawn thinking played a role in the September violence, but it is likely to have strengthened local Right-Wing resentments.

Fortunately, Cyprus has human rights organizations and humanitarian relief structures.  They are at work to develop reconciliation and creating possibilities for discussions and better understanding.  These reconciliation efforts are vital for the future and need to be actively supported.

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René Wadlow is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues, and editor of Transnational Perspectives.


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 2 Oct 2023.

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