Cyprus Mail

Red Cross rejects claims it had stopped helping Syrian refugees

A child at the Kokkinotrimithia camp outside Nicosia

THE RED Cross said yesterday it was continuing to offer humanitarian services at the Syrian refugees reception centre in Kokkinotrimithia.

The organisation responded to statements by immigrant support group KISA’s Doros Polykarpou earlier in the week that the Red Cross was told by the government that they could no longer offer humanitarian aid at the camp.

“At the relevant meeting at the interior ministry in which the withdrawal from the camp of all the state support services was announced, the general manager of the Cyprus Red Cross said that as a humanitarian organisation that offers its services without discrimination to anyone in need, regardless of their status, legal or otherwise, cannot withdraw and will continue its presence at the camp site,” the announcement said.

It added that the Red Cross, which is present at the camp on a daily basis and continues within its limits, to support the refugees and offer help where and when needed.

“The Red Cross notes that, as a full member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent knows well its mission and the principles under which it must operate, which fully applies in all cases and regardless of the occasional state policy,” the announcement addd.

After the withdrawal of the state support services on Saturday the organisation closed down its distribution centre, which was supplying the some 200 refugees with clothing and personal hygiene items.

Polykarpou had told the Cyprus Mail earlier in the week that KISA was considering reporting the Cyprus Red Cross to the International Red Cross for discontinuing to offer aid after government pressure. KISA also called on the organisation yesterday to resume the offer of humanitarian aid at the camp.

The government withdrew all state services last Saturday, leaving the Syrians to fend for themselves after a three-month residence permit given to all of them expired and telling them they should have already made the necessary arrangements for their legal stay on the island.

“We emphasise that even though they lack a legal residence status, because of not applying for asylum, the refugees have at least the right to live in decent conditions and have access to health care and education,” KISA said.

“We urgently invite the public, restaurants, those related to the food sector, volunteer doctors and teachers to support the refugees with food and things of first need, medical and pharmaceutical equipment and health care as well as educational programmes for children, since the government is depriving them of every basic human right,” the KISA announcement said.

For more information: 22 878181, [email protected]

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