A total of 265,000 persons remained internally displaced in Cyprus at the end of 1996. UNHCR reported that 89 cases representing 144 persons seeking refugee status approached the agency and that it interviewed 53 cases representing 101 persons during the year. Persons from Iran and Iraq represented more than one third of those approaching UNHCR. In 1996, UNHCR recognized under its mandate 18 cases (34 persons) and rejected 35 cases (67 persons). During the year, the Republic of Cyprus completed a draft refugee law. Although not enacted at year's end, the law is likely to result in significant changes in the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in Cyprus. Cyprus provided 49 persons with temporary protection, including 11 Bosnians and 16 Iraqis recognized by the UNHCR office in Lebanon. Internal Displacement In 1996, UNHCR continued to coordinate humanitarian assistance for 200,000 Greek Cypriots displaced in the south of the island and 65,000 Turkish Cypriots displaced in the north. The displacement in Cyprus is the longest standing in the region. The first forced displacements occurred between 1963 and 1970, when more than 20,000 Turkish Cypriots were displaced after being attacked and terrorized by Greek Cypriot military and paramilitary forces. Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, after a coup backed by the Greek military junta removed the legal president. As a result of the invasion, some 180,000 to 200,000 Greek Cypriots fled south in an uncoordinated exodus. Concurrently, about 50,000 to 60,000 Turkish Cypriots fled north, including most of the people who had been previously displaced. Since 1964, a UN military force has monitored the welfare of minorities in both sections of the country, and policed the "buffer zone" that divides the island. The UN allocated some $9.9 million in humanitarian and resettlement programs and for internally displaced Cypriots in 1996. On December 23, 1996, the UN Security Council renewed the mandate of the peacekeeping force in Cyprus until June 1997. Violent Disturbances in 1996 Between August and October 1996, several people were killed in skirmishes at the buffer zone dividing Turkish-held northern Cyprus and government-held southern Cyprus, reportedly some of the worst episodes of violence in the country's 22-year history of division. In the first incident, on August 11, one demonstrator was beaten to death, another was shot, and more than 70 people were injured when violence broke out after a group of Greek Cypriot protestors crossed the UN-policed buffer zone into Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus. Three days later, following the funeral of the first victim, another Greek Cypriot was killed, reportedly by Turkish Cypriot troops, when he entered the buffer zone and tried to pull down the Turkish flag. Human rights groups expressed concern that the Turkish troops may have fired at and injured some of the 250 demonstrators who gathered at the funeral. In September, a Turkish Cypriot soldier was killed while manning an observation post. In October, a 58-year-old Greek Cypriot man was shot dead when he crossed into the north of the island. UNHCR continued to implement "bi-communal" projects and activities during the year in an attempt to forge greater cooperation between Turkish and Greek internally displaced Cypriots. For example, UNHCR funded a bi-communal nursery in the village of Dherinia on the east coast "border" between northern and southern Cyprus.

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