The British contingent of the United Nations peacekeepers in Cyprus is being forced to move from their uninhabitable living quarters at the Ledra Palace Hotel in Nicosia’s Green Line. The troops were stationed there following the Turkish “invasion” in 1974. Given the lack of finances to make repairs, they are unlikely to return.
Only the ground floor, which is noted for hosting bi-communal events, will now be used.
The once-luxurious hotel, now riddled with bullet holes, was first declared unsafe nearly twenty years ago. The UN has said there is nothing in the budget to pay for the refurbishment of the hotel and the upper floors are structurally unsafe. Peace Corps soldiers have been living in squalid and unsanitary conditions for years, while the South Cyprus government has baulked at paying for renovations, the ‘Cyprus Mail’ reports.
The 210 British soldiers are to be moved to the United Nations Protected Area (UNPA) at the old Nicosia airport, which is also under UN control. The move is part of a strategic review of Unficyp that was carried out recently. Last week Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, who was in Cyprus, alluded to “changes” to the status of the Ledra Palace.
Unficyp spokesman Aleem Siddique told ‘Cyprus Mail’ on Monday that the hotel would remain in UN hands.