Cyprus Mail

‘Give us our benefits’, say refugees

AROUND 200 recognised refugees, together with their children protested yesterday outside parliament because they have not received their welfare benefits for five months.

According to the immigrant support group KISA’s director Doros Polycarpou who was part of the protest, the refugees have no jobs and no means to pay their rent. In some cases they survive by earching for food from rubbish bins, he said.

“Parliament has told us they believe in equality but they are not paying welfare to refugees while paying Cypriot citizens’ money on time. If parliament believes in equality then the same law should be upheld for these people,” Polycarpou said.

After a decision by parliament to look into certain social benefits before authorising them, a list of all recognised refugees and the welfare amount they are entitled to was provided to parliament every month by the labour ministry.

“Refugees will not be paid automatically like Cypriots but recognised refugees are entitled to the same public rights as Cypriots. But how will ministers know about each personal case and about the needs of each person?” Polycarpou asked.

The protestors then moved outside the labour ministry. Polycarpou met with the labour ministry’s permanent secretary, George Papageorgiou, who assured him that the ministry would find ways to prevent these kinds of problems in the future. Polycarpou was also told that payments for the first month would be handed out over the next few days.

The labour ministry was unavailable for comment yesterday.

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