Cyprus Mail

Refugees given shelter by church group but help still needed

By Evie Andreou

Around 25 Syrian and Palestinian refugees, who were among the remaining 85 forced to leave the Kokkinotrimithia reception centre on Tuesday, have found refuge in the premises of the New Life International Church in Strovolos, immigrant support group KISA said.

More were expected to join the upcoming days, KISA said.

After the decision of the government to pack up the tents on Tuesday, the last of the refugees were given €500 each per adult and €200 per child and were transferred by buses to Nicosia, Larnaca or Limassol, according to their preferences.

“The majority of the refugees decided to go to Nicosia. Thus after the collection of their belongings in plastic bags they were brought and left in front of the central Nicosia Post office in Eleftheria square,” KISA said.

Some refugees were accommodated by friends and others checked in cheap hotels for a night or two until they could figure out what to do, it said.

KISA said that the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) offered to host them in its premises, but it was not possible in the end as the premises are located in the buffer zone and the refugees do not have documents to cross into the Green Line.

Around 15 people who had nowhere to go stayed temporarily in a Nicosia mosque, until the New Life International Church offered to take them in.

“In the church they were warmly welcomed and were provided with warm food and beds for the children. Today another 10 refugees joined the place and according to the Church they can stay there as long as they need” KISA said.

The refugees, who were among the 337 people rescued off the coast of Cyprus in September, refused to apply for asylum as they stated they wanted to travel to other European countries.

The camp was closed down after the three-month residence permit given to the refugees expired. The government had asked those who refused to apply for asylum to legalise their stay on the island by applying for a humanitarian residence permit with access to the job market or for a visitors permit.

The Cyprus Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) urged the refugees to apply for asylum as a best guarantee to ensure their international protection needs.

To date 71 people have submitted asylum applications and were relocated to the Kofinou reception centre and 165 have applied for, and obtained, renewable six-month humanitarian residence permits.

“KISA calls on the government to resume its responsibility in providing the Syrian and Palestinian refugees with food and accommodation, since the amount of money given to them is barely enough to survive for not more than two mere weeks,” the announcement said.

It also called on the government to cooperate in finding a permanent solution for them, as well as make arrangements for the children attend school.

“According to the law a child not in school for more than fifteen days is considered a penal offence,” the announcement said.

The group is now trying to organise daily meals for the refugees.

“Since their accommodation was settled, KISA is appealing to the public and to the humanitarian organisations for help in the provision of food for the Syrian and Palestinian refugees,” the organisation said.


For more information, please call KISA Tel: 22 878181

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