A sad irregular migration story which unfolded on Tuesday after a Pakistani coupe lost their twin girls while trying to cross the divided island’s buffer zone in pitch dark conditions had a happy end.
UN peacekeepers reported on Tuesday afternoon that both three-year-old girls were safe after they got separated from their parents in no man’s land in Athienou area.
The family reportedly had attempted to cross over from the breakaway north to the south through the UN-patrolled buffer zone, but the children became separated and got lost in the dark.
One girl was found cold, wet and scared by a United Nations patrol before dawn on Tuesday, but her sister was not with her.
Patrols continued the search throughout the day until the UN confirmed in the late afternoon that the second girl had been found “safe and uninjured”.
She was actually found at Pournara migrants’ first reception centre after a resident there picked up the lost girl when she found her wandering.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish forces occupied the northern part of the Mediterranean island.
The buffer zone, a ceasefire line some 180 kilometres long and up to eight kilometres wide, is fortified in places with wire fences.
Many irregular migrants cross from the breakaway northern part of the island into the government-controlled Republic of Cyprus, which says it has the European Union’s highest proportion of asylum seekers per capita.