Cyprus Mail

Syrian child believed dead reunited with family in Cyprus after two years

Migrant children in Cyprus: file photo

After a separation of two years a seven-year-old girl from Syria has finally been reunited with her family in Cyprus.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) conducted its first family reunification in Cyprus in coordination with the Cypriot foreign ministry.

“The girl was separated from her family for two years, having survived after the bombing and destruction of the house where they lived. She was very eager to join  her family in Cyprus, who were thrilled to hear that she is alive,” head of IOM Office of Cyprus Natasa Xenophontos Koudouna said.

The family fled Syria after the bombing raid and settled in Cyprus believing the little girl was dead but she had been found by extended family members who took her to a nearby village and looked after her.

The parents only found out she was alive when they were finally able to contact their extended family back in Syria much later. Even then it was not possible to immediately bring their daughter to Cyprus as the IOM had to rule out trafficking and to ensure that she was indeed the daughter of this family.

The girl eventually travelled from Syria via Jordan on Monday, Koudouna said. On the same day, she was flown from Amman to Cyprus with an escort and reunited with her parents and siblings at Larnaca airport on Monday night.

At the request of the NGO Future Worlds Centre, the IOM, in cooperation with the Embassy of Cyprus in Amman and the Jordanian authorities arranged for travel documents, flight reservations, tickets, and provided assistance both in Jordan and upon her arrival in Cyprus.

The girl and her family will be further assisted with integration assistance and psychological support, according to the IOM.

Of the 9,965 people whom IOM has assisted with family reunifications in 2015, the vast majority were in EU countries, Norway and Switzerland.

IOM is also in discussions with the Cypriot government to facilitate the reunification of refugees to destinations throughout Europe.


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