Cypriots blame migrants for country's ills

Mon Oct 5, 2009 7:26am EDT
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NICOSIA (Reuters Life!) - Most people in Cyprus are wary of migrants whom they partly blame for high unemployment, an EU-funded survey showed on Monday.

Although 61 percent of Cypriots agree that immigrants are needed to work in certain sectors of the economy, the majority of the 505 interviewees were against immigration, the Eurobarometer excerpt on Cyprus showed.

"Eighty two percent, the highest percentage amongst the EU member-states, believe that the presence of people from other ethnic groups is a cause for insecurity," said Nicolas Karydas, director of local consultancy Ampersand.

The survey found that 90 percent of the Cypriots questioned believe migrants cause higher unemployment, compared to the EU average of 49 percent. Their main concern was the problem of crime, which the public links to the growing migrant population.

Human rights organizations took to the streets on the weekend in protest over mass anti-migrant police raids in the old town of the capital Nicosia in late September.

Inflation remains the second most important concern for Cypriots at 34 percent. The eastern Mediterranean's consumer price inflation fell to -1.2 percent year-on-year in September.

Most citizens believe that their national economy is good despite the global financial crisis, ranking third out of the 27-member bloc, the survey showed.

The absolute majority of Cypriots, 93 percent, would like in 2030 for people to have more time to devote to family life -- the highest percentage recorded in the EU along with Finland.

(Reporting by Sarah Ktisti; Editing by Paul Casciato )