Turkish Cypriots on Friday protested the Greek Cypriot administration's closure of crossings as part of the Greek side's efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
"We want to get back to work," read a banner unfurled by dozens of demonstrators who have jobs in the Greek Cypriot-administered south, gathered at the Ayios Dhometios crossing in the capital Nicosia.
After the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Cyprus on March 9, crossings along the U.N.-patrolled cease-fire line that runs across the country were shuttered.
About 1,500 Turkish Cypriots formally work in the south in sectors ranging from construction to health services, although the figure is likely higher because of unregistered workers.
The south has recorded 907 cases and 17 deaths from COVID-19, according to figures Thursday when two new cases were declared, while the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) says it has had 108 cases and four deaths.
The Cyprus problem has remained unresolved for decades despite a series of efforts by the U.N. for a lasting settlement between Turkish and Greek Cypriots.
The latest attempt to resolve the problem in Switzerland failed in 2017 and recent tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean have further complicated efforts for a settlement.
The Greek Cypriot administration continues to oppose recognizing the political equality of Turkish Cypriots and claims to be the island's sole legitimate government.
The island has been divided into a Turkish Cypriot government in the northern third and Greek Cypriot administration in the south since a 1974 military coup aimed at Cyprus' annexation by Greece.
Turkey's intervention as a guarantor power in 1974 had stopped yearslong persecution and violence against Turkish Cypriots by ultranationalist Greek Cypriots. The TRNC was founded in 1983.
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