TEN SCHOOLS from across Cyprus were awarded prizes in a competition tackling racism and xenophobia to mark World Refugee Day yesterday.
The competition, titled ‘Talk about racism and xenophobia: silence is not a solution’ was organised by the Representations of the European Commission and UNHCR in Cyprus, and the Ombudsman’s Office.
Overall, 21 secondary schools took part in the competition, for which students in each school had to create their own newspapers covering issues concerning racism and xenophobia.
The first prize was shared by the Palouriotissa Gymnasium and Limassol Evening Lyceum.
In total, six prizes and four honourable mentions were awarded while honourary certificates were given to all participating schools and students.
The ten winning schools received a commemorative sign with the inscription ‘School Against Racism’, to be placed at the entrance of each school building.
The ten newspapers created were displayed at the Cultural Centre of the European University Cyprus during the award ceremony.
Speaking at the event, Ombudswoman Eliza Savvides said that through their participation, students showed that racism is not a taboo subject and that is has to be put forward and dealt with.
Cyprus is said to have the second highest number of immigrants on a European level, accounting for 20 per cent of the population (13 per cent from the EU and around 7 per cent from third countries).
The address of the UNHCR head in Cyprus, Nasr Ishak, was read out on his behalf. In his address, Ishak congratulated students and teachers of the participating schools, noting that their articles and newsletters send a clear message to their fellow students as well as to the public at large: that discrimination and violence against migrants or refugees are not acceptable and should have no place in a democratic society.