As the bitter Lebanese civil war rages on with right-wing fores advancing on the left-wing ports of Tyre and Sidon, increasing numbers of Palestinian refugees are escaping by boat to Cyprus.
As the bitter Lebanese civil war rages on with right-wing fores advancing on the left-wing ports of Tyre and Sidon, increasing numbers of Palestinian refugees are escaping by boat to Cyprus. Many of t boats are forced to anchor outside the Cypriot port of Larnaca because of the problems of accommodating the flood of victims of the war. However, one boat carrying mostly women and children, managed to enter the port last Saturday (October 16).
SYNOPSIS: The Palestinians, mainly Moslems, arrived to face immediate uncertainty over where to live. The constant influx of refugees from the Lebanon at a rate of more than 2,000 a week has forced up rents and prices, and increased an already difficult housing problem.
The Cypriots, after all, have refugees of their own from the Turkish invasion of 1974, and less than three months ago there were still 14,000 Cypriots living in tents. A further 100,000 were said by officials to be living in overcrowded, unhygienic conditions in shacks, garages and basements.
The latest Palestinian arrivals therefore have a worrying wait ahead of them. No houses or hotels are available at present, and there is no immediate sign of any alternative roof over their heads.
The Lebanese have to get a visa before landing at Larnaca, but once there they can stay for 15 days. If they can then prove sufficient justification for remaining, they are usually given residence permits of six months.
But there is evidence of growing antagonism from the Cypriots as a result of the rice and rent rises of recent months, and the authorities in Nicosia, the capital, have begun to re-examine their entry regulations. One of the biggest Cypriot trade unions has also threatened a strike over price rises.