By Bejay Browne
FOR the first time, candlelight processions to promote global issues concerning migrants and refugees will take place in towns across Cyprus on Sunday to mark an International day dedicated to the issue.
Cyprus will join countries all over the world holding similar initiatives to mark International Migrants Day on January 18.
The procession is being organised by CARITAS, an amalgamation of over 160 Catholic organisations, which aims to make a real difference to the lives of the poor and disadvantaged worldwide. Events will take place on Sunday in Paphos, Nicosia, Limasol and Larnaca.
Caritas Paphos was created to help the needy and disadvantaged, with emphasis on the local community.
Committee chairman Wendy Burdon said: “We would like as many people as possible to join us on Sunday to express compassion and humanity and bring attention to the main issues affecting many migrants and refugees.”
People of all faiths and denominations will be welcome and are invited to attend and show their support, she said.
Participants in Paphos will meet close to the bus station in Kato Paphos at 5pm on Sunday, collect their candles and join the procession which will make its way along to the castle in the harbour.
“We will also be holding up placards highlighting some of the problems,” she said.
Burdon said there were around 51 million refugees worldwide and 2.5 million of those were from Syria alone. Caritas Paphos helps to feed 200 people in the town on a weekly basis, many of them are Syrian refugees.
“We give them bags of non-perishable food every week and do what we can to help, we also give them gas bottles. Many are struggling to pay bills such as rent and electricity,” she said.
Burdon said there was also a Caritas migrant office in Limassol which helps migrants, including offering legal aid.
“There can be a mountain of bureaucracy and red tape involved with gaining refugee status, or for asylum seekers and migrant workers. Some people are also working in terrible conditions, subjected to long hours and low pay,” she added.
Fr Carlos Ferrero, a priest at St. Paul’s Catholic Parish in Paphos said that in just one year, the numbers of those needing help from Caritas had mushroomed from 30 to over 200.
“There is a massive movement of people and so many refugees these days. It’s one thing to move and be free, but another to be a refugee in a foreign country. People must cope with a different culture. There are family divisions, financial problems and so many other related issues.”
He added: “We may have differences but we are all human. Caritas also helps with teaching languages and we are always looking for people to help.”
Burdon said that all donations would be gratefully received and noted that non-perishables and rice were urgently required.
For further information: Wendy Burdon- Chairman CARITAS Paphos 99040294