By Andria Kades
AUTHORITIES were slammed on Saturday for not acting quickly to protect two minor siblings allegedly forced to beg outside a supermarket for their parents.
DISY deputy Stella Kyriakidou called for an investigation after reports emerged that the two children in Larnaca were forced to beg under threat from their parents, who also allegedly abused and neglected them.
“My information tells me that the first reports [to authorities] were made some time and go and this family is in Cyprus for some years now. The children were in a school and others saw them begging and being neglected,” she said, adding that nothing was initially done about it.
“I can’t reveal the exact date but I believe that if a child is attending school and the school sees that there is an issue of neglect and has concerns, they should inform authorities and if the authorities were indeed contacted they should have reacted immediately,” she added.
Kyriakidou has sent a letter to the education ministry, social welfare service and police asking when the issue was first reported to police “and if it was a while ago why measures to protect the children were not taken immediately.”
According to media reports, the case which concerns a 13-year-old boy and his 11-year-old sister, is to be investigated by Larnaca CID.
The case first came to light after the children were spotted begging outside a supermarket in Larnaca. The welfare office and police were informed at the time, and the children were simply told to leave and not come back.
They were spotted at the same location again however some time later. In the intervening period between the first reports and the subsequent one, the family was reportedly being monitored by welfare but during this time the children were still being sent out to beg.
Eventually welfare obtained a court order to remove them from the home. But Kyriakidou maintains it should have been done from the start and not at the end of a monitoring period that had clearly failed to work.
According to daily Phileleftheros, which appeared to have obtained details into the case, the children’s father used to tell them how much money they should come back home with and if they had any less than that they would be punished, either beaten or locked in a room..
Citing its own sources, the paper said the school’s headmistress informed the welfare office that the parents had no money to pay their rent and for a period of time, lived in an abandoned shop.
The daily also went on to add that the children’s mother demanded they go out and pick up cigarette butts from cafes or anywhere else so she could remove the remaining tobacco and roll other cigarettes.