Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Photis Photiou met with the head of Unficyp’s civilian affairs department on Wednesday, the second time this month that only medicines were delivered to Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north after the Turkish Cypriot side slapped a tariff on food aid.
Photiou asked the UN official during their meeting for the force to intervene to have the customs duties axed, he told the Cyprus News Agency after the meeting in Nicosia.
He also said it was the government’s firm position not to pay such duties to the breakaway state in the north.
Only medical supplies were carried on Wednesday for the second time this month, a UN spokesman confirmed to the Cyprus Mail. The decision to tax food supplies and other items like baby diapers was enforced by Turkish Cypriots on October 1.
“Unficyp regrets the decision taken by the Turkish Cypriot administration, which it considers to be an unfortunate development,” the force said at the time.
Delivering humanitarian assistance in the northern part of the island was based on a longstanding agreement between the sides known as Vienna III, and provides hundreds of elderly and other vulnerable people with basic supplies on a weekly basis.
Turkish Cypriots argue that the agreement no longer applies especially since the opening of crossing points in 2003, which they say means the people receiving the supplies can no longer be classed as ‘enclaved’ because they and their relatives have freedom of movement.
At the end of the second phase of the Turkish invasion late in August 1974, about 20,000 Greek and Maronite Cypriots living in villages and townships primarily in the Karpas peninsula in the northeast and in villages west of Kyrenia remained behind the ceasefire line. According to April 2013 figures, only 437 people remained – 328 Greek Cypriots and 109 Maronite Cypriots. The government has been offering incentives for more people to move back over the past 12 months.
Photiou said the government’s aim now was for the UN and the EU to intervene to “end this inhuman situation” with the food aid.
“This is the goal,” he said, adding that in the meantime, some steps were being taken with the aid of people who want to help, to ensure at least some supplies were being given to the elderly Greek Cypriots and Maronites in the north when it comes to special dietary needs, and for infants requiring special milk.
“The government stands by the enclaved and we are certain that permanent solutions will be found in due course,” he said. “It is our clear goal that this inhuman, unacceptable and provocative measure be lifted.”