“REFUGEES in Cyprus at 272,000” boasted the headline on the Phil website the other day, informing its visitors that, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), “for Cyprus the number of the displaced in 2016 came to 272,000.”
It was not just the number of tourists visiting Kyproulla that hit record highs in 2016. We also recorded the highest-ever number of refugees, almost tripling them since 1974. The total includes the 117,000 registered in 1974 by the government of the Republic of Cyprus as displaced, clarified IDMC. Have none of them died in 43 years?
For decades, our governments said the Turkish invasion uprooted 200,000 people from their homes and only now we find out it was half as many. The ‘doubling numbers’ policy was also pursued in the case of the missing, which for years we claimed were 3,000 until we actually looked at the records and discovered there were a little over 1,600.
Inflating figures for added effect happens all the time, but overdoing this runs the risk of nobody taking you seriously. It is surprising that IDMC included the number of displaced Greek Cypriots registered in ’74 unchanged given that half of them must have died since then.
The irony is that even if we subtracted half the refugees from the original figure, the 2016 total would still have been at a record level of 213,500, almost double the actual figure of ’74 and a little higher than the government’s propaganda figure.
THE BIG leap in refugee numbers came in 2015 when the total rose from the 212,000 it had been in 2014 to 272,000. Where had the 60,000 extra refugees come from considering nobody was displaced in those years? There was no armed conflict or natural disaster causing people to flee from their homes.
Had our government decided to label people going abroad in search of better employment prospects, because of the recession, as displaced persons? Perhaps it also included the number of people who moved house among the displaced.
IDMC, aware that the figures for Kyproulla make no sense, states below the graph showing our inexplicably rapid refugee growth that “estimate is based on data from the Government of Cyprus. It includes people displaced since the mid 1970s as well as their children.”
Explaining the causes of internal displacement IDMC mentions “armed conflicts, situations of generalised violence, human rights violations, sudden onset disasters and slow onset disasters.” It does not however mention legislation, which makes refugee status a hereditary right as is the case in Kyproulla, which also counts the dead as displaced persons.
The big increase in 2015 was caused by the passing of legislation – a type of natural disaster – enabling refugee mothers to pass on their refugee status to their kids. Until then, only refugee fathers had this right.
In a couple of decades, IDMC will list more refugees for Kyproulla than the actual population given that refugee status is not only a hereditary right, but also a death right.
MORPHOU refugees had grown tired of seeing a peace effort emerging and then collapsing, said the occupied village’s mayor Victoras Hadjavraam in a message to Prez Nik, during the traditional tour of the palace, House and embassies on August 16.
Forty-three years was too long, he said as two-and-a-half generations had been lost and Morphites that actually lived in the village were disappearing. I will just mention that in 2004, when Morphou was offered to us as part of the Annan plan, the majority of the Morphites, headed by their then super-patriotic mayor Charalambos Pittas voted that they did not want it returned and had no problem with the Turks keeping it.
This lunacy of the Morphites, who have now grown tired of failed peace efforts, was often highlighted in the columns of my late, good friend Loucas Charalambous, who was particularly amused when Pittas held a ceremony to present the ‘Key of Morphou’ to the President of Greece, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who was also declared an “honorary citizen of Morphou”.
In his column on July 17, 2016, Loucas wrote: “I am not worried and I have no doubt, having Pavlopoulos in the ranks of the struggle for its return, it will be only a matter of time before we triumphantly enter beautiful Morphou led by him and Pittas on horseback. I just hope the mayor has given Pavlopoulos the liberation programme for Morphou so he can be present and lead the procession of our liberation forces.”
THE LIBERATION programme Loucas wrote about was the annual tour of embassies of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, on August 16, by the Morphou mayor and his entourage, to hand over a resolution, demanding the return of Morphou.
Honorary citizen Pavlopoulos did not join Wednesday’s procession of the liberation forces, which were snubbed by the Yanks. Mayor Hadjiavraam complained that the resolution was taken “at very low level”. No official from the embassy came out to receive the resolution, a security guard insisting it was handed to him.
At the other embassies an official met the delegation and gave them familiar spiel about his country’s support for a settlement. The big surprise was at the embassy of Britain, at which the delegation was received at the highest level by High Commissioner Matthew Kidd.
Such deference from the duplicitous Brits should give Morphites sleepless nights.
PREZ NIK has turned devoutly religious. Not only did he attend the Tuesday church service in Prodromos for the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, but he also took Holy Communion, which raised some questions. Had he fasted and gone to confession beforehand, a requirement of the Orthodox Church? And did he not mind mixing his drinks so early in the morning?
After the service he offered a Christian message to the faithful and suggested he was looking for divine guidance to help him with the affairs of state. It was disappointing that in his message he did not ask for any help for breaking the Cyprob deadlock, indicating that he is not too unhappy with it.
Instead, he said: “What I would like to wish, and above all to those celebrating (the day), is all the best, but also to all the Cypriot people – I mean more the Greek Cypriots, the Christians that believe in the divine grace of the Virgin Mary – to have their prayers answered; and to shed light on us, who must take decisions so that we are correct towards our people and our country.”
Maybe he should not have mixed his drinks.
SEVERAL of our more cynical customers were wondering why the Prez had turned all religious on us. A glykis drinker speculated that Nik had identified another Church-owned plot of land he wanted to buy and was looking to soften the Archbishop before entering price negotiations?
A metrios drinker, suggested that he had come under the influence of his devout, church-going government spokesman, goody-two-shoes, Nicos Christodoulides, claiming this was inevitable given the amount of time they spent together.
The most cynical explanation was from a skettos drinker, who insisted Nik’s new-found faith was directly-linked to the presidential elections. By playing the devout Christian, taking Holy Communion in front of the cameras and seeking divine guidance, the prez was pandering to the priests. He was banking on the Church securing the vote of Elam, which it controls, for him in the second round of the elections.
SPEAKING of the elections, Junior – also known as Nikolas 2018 – continued his charm offensive among the gullible of our society, visiting several NGOs in the last week and earning some lavish praise in Phil, which brown-nosingly reported:
“They have been saying that Nikolas Papadopoulos made excellent impressions at the non-governmental organisations he visited successively in the last day, sending the message about an administration with social sensitivities and a human face. The different move of Nikolas that won the plaudits was that he visited the organisations at their own premises, in order to better understand the environment and conditions in which these organisations operate.”
The writer did not inform us who was “saying Nikolas made excellent impressions.” Could it have been his election campaign team that sent the story about the candidate with social sensitivities to the paper?
Phil’s objective report also carried a pic of Junior, with his sister sat next to him like his chaperone, showing his human face while talking to people at an NGO. Better for his image that he was accompanied by his sister rather than his mum if he need a woman by his side.
AS YOU MAY have guessed, this was a bad week for local news. The CyBC did not bother to have its three-hour, morning, current affairs radio show all last week anticipating the dearth of news and absence on holiday of all the politicians.
The situation was so bad that on Wednesday morning Trito’s radio show broadcast a 10-minute feature on Elvis Presley to mark the 40th anniversary of his death. Few others mentioned the anniversary of the King’s death, because they could not link him to the Cyprob. Elvis had never asked for the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Kyproulla in any of his songs.
The desperation for a news story was illustrated by Sigmalive website which on Wednesday evening had as its main headline, “Lament for spokesman of Lillikas campaign staff.” The spokesman’s brother, who had been seriously ill, had passed away, but was it top news?
WHEN there is no news, we can always turn to the Cyprob and this establishment is as guilty as anyone in this respect, but the prize for the most imaginative milking of the prob goes to the CyBC’s main evening news, which on Tuesday featured the following headline: “August probably dead for the Cyprus problem.”
It was only a probability, but on Friday Phil suggested things could get worse. “Attempts of burial” of the Cyprob, screamed its banner headline. Now if the attempts were successful, it would not be just August that would be probably dead for the Cyprob.
We should not give up hope and Phil should not be too depressed, because even if the burial attempts are successful, the devout Prez Nik, with the guidance of the Virgin Mary, might be able to resurrect it.