UN Searches For Toddler Lost In Cyprus’ Buffer Zone
UN peacekeepers in Cyprus searched Tuesday for a three-year-old girl lost in the buffer zone dividing the Mediterranean island, after she was separated from her parents and sister while they were trying to cross.
The family had reportedly attempted to cross over from the north to the south through the UN-patrolled buffer zone, but lost their children in the dark.
The girl’s twin sister was found cold, wet and scared by a United Nations patrol before dawn on Tuesday.
The parents, reportedly from Pakistan, 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.
“We are supporting the local police services searching for a missing girl child inside the buffer zone, near Athienou,” said Aleem Siddique, spokesman for the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus.
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.
Cyprus police said they were informed of the incident by the UN, which reported that the parents are also looking for their second child.
The rescued girl was intially taken to a police station in Athienou, before social services took her into care pending further investigation.
Many irregular migrants cross from the breakaway northern part of the island into the government-controlled Republic of Cyprus, which has the European Union’s highest proportion of asylum seekers per capita.