Cypriots Helping Syrian Refugees (CHSR) managed to collect double the quantities of aid items anticipated that will help relief efforts in Greece for the thousands of refugees passing through as they seek shelter in Europe.
The three-week nationwide initiative, launched by the group last month to collect and pack items donated by members of the public for the refugees has proven successful, the group said on Tuesday.
The group had aimed to fill a 20-foot container but so much was donated that, at the last minute, they had to upgrade to a 40ft container, which will be shipped to Greece, for free, by Salamis Shipping Services Ltd.
The volume collected was such that the group, which was formed just a month ago on Facebook, approached UNFICYP for help packing.
“We couldn’t have done it without them,” said one of the organisers. “They provided a team of soldiers to help with loading, and the transport to take the collection to Limassol for shipping”.
At City Plaza in Nicosia, where the group had been collecting, packing and storing donations for almost a month, a human chain was formed on Tuesday morning as UN soldiers and Nicosia municipality employees joined the CHSR volunteers to transfer the aid packages to the UN lorries.
The final destination of the items is the old Athens airport, where they will be distributed by non-governmental organisations, CHSR’s Rosie Charalambous said.
“All I’m concerned about is that it gets to the people who really need it, most of whom have been bussed up to the northern border to start the long trek into northern Europe,” Charalambous said.
“It’s been an incredible few weeks, seeing the overwhelming response of citizens from all over Cyprus in terms of donated items, people giving up their free time to help with packing, and businesses joining in to support the effort. We can’t thank them all enough,” said a spokesman for the group.
The collection campaign was put under the auspices of former EU Commissioner Androulla Vassilou and also received a lot of help from the Nicosia Municipality.
“We do our bit as municipality to help in any way we can,” said municipal councillor Nikos Malekkos, who offered a helping hand by transferring boxes to the lorries.
Other companies also gave their support with either assistance or funding: Orbit International Relocations, Microsoft Cyprus, CK Logistics, Lordos Contracta/City Plaza, Opium Works Digital, Gap Akis Express, Voici La Mode (Marks and Spencer).