Twin Pakistani toddlers lost in Cyprus buffer zone 'safe': UN

By: AFP
Published: 07:45 AM, 16 Feb, 2022
Twin Pakistani toddlers lost in Cyprus buffer zone 'safe': UN
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UN peacekeepers in Cyprus said Tuesday that twin three-year-old girls lost in the buffer zone dividing the Mediterranean island were safe after they were separated from their parents in no man's land.

The family, reportedly from Pakistan, were said to have attempted to cross over from the 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".

The parents told authorities in the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) that they had lost their children in the buffer zone near Athienou, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) southeast of the divided capital Nicosia.

Cyprus has been split since 1974 when Turkish forces occupied the northern part of the island in response to a Greek-sponsored military coup.

The buffer zone, a ceasefire line some 180 kilometres (112 miles) long and up to eight kilometres (five miles) 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.

Aleem Siddique, spokesman for the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus, said troops had been "supporting the local police services" searching for the girl "inside the buffer zone".

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.