Cypriot authorities have started removing around 600 asylum seekers from a condemned apartment complex near the resort of Paphos after protests by residents and allegations of electricity theft, police said Tuesday.
"Personnel are in the area and have blocked off the building complex and begun to register all the foreigners who are settled in the specific complex in Chlorakas," Paphos police spokesman Michalis Nicolaou told reporters.
He said the asylum-seekers would be registered and transferred to a migrant reception centre for processing to determine whether they have the right to stay on the Mediterranean island.
Police are carrying out an eviction order issued in November 2020 but not implemented.
State broadcaster CyBC said that around 150 migrants had left the complex before the police operation began at 6 am (0300 GMT) on Monday.
The government said that those found to be residing on the island illegally would be deported, while legal residents would be given two weeks to find alternative accommodation.
Under the 2020 decree, the Ayios Nikolaos apartment complex should have been closed on health and safety grounds.
There has been friction between the asylum-seekers and residents of the small community of Chlorakas, who have held protests demanding that the flats be cleared.
The issue resurfaced after the state electricity utility cut power to the complex and placed the local substation under guard.
Around 100 migrants launched a protest last week demanding to be rehoused elsewhere. The police anti-riot unit intervened, using tear gas against the protesters.
European Union member Cyprus argues it is a "frontline country" on the Mediterranean migrant route, with asylum-seekers accounting for five percent of the 915,000 people living in government-held areas of the island -- the highest proportion in the bloc.