To mark the occasion of World Refugee Day 2018 on June 20, the religious leaders of Cyprus have jointly issued a video statement that advocates inclusion, understanding, and support for refugees and asylum seekers in Cyprus.
The video was made in collaboration with the Religious Dialogue Office for the Peace Process in Cyprus (RTYCPP) and the United Nations Office for Refugees in Cyprus (UNHCR Cyprus).
It includes statements by Archbishop Chrysostomos, Mufti Talip Atalay, Archbishop Khoren Doghramadjian of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church of Cyprus, Archbishop Youssef Soueif of the Maronite Church of Cyprus and Latin Patriarchal Vicar Jerzy Kraj.
“With this powerful joint statement by the five main religious leaders of Cyprus, we are indeed seeing the start of a strong interreligious dialogue related to refugee protection in Cyprus,” UNHCR Representative in Cyprus Damtew Dessalegne said.
“In anxious times such as the one we are living in today, enhanced partnership is essential not only between the United Nations and faith-based actors, but also among these organisations themselves, in building welcoming, tolerant and inclusive communities based on the common values of caring and respect for the stranger.”
In the video, Archbishop Chrysostomos invited everyone to devote particular attention to refugees who are forced to leave their homeland in search of a better life.
“We call on the decision makers to help solve the problems of refugees and for the Mediterranean Sea to cease to be the graveyard of innocent people,” he said.
Mufti Talip Atalay said embracing refugees and providing them with maximum care are not only humanitarian requirements but was also a religious obligation.
“Both our church and our people have experienced and felt on their own skin what it means to become a refugee,” said the Armenian archbishop.
Maronite Youssef Soueif called on all to help, saying “we must all try … to help them integrate into their new societies.”
On his part, Vicar Jerzy Kraj addressed the refugees, telling them never to lose hope that they will receive help on their journey.
As part of World Refugee Day marked on June 20, the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra is holding a concert on Wednesday night to honour the strength, resilience and courage of refugees around the world under the auspices of the UNHCR Office in Cyprus. The concert will take place under the artistic direction of Jens Georg Bachmann and with the participation of guitar soloist, George Nouneh, a self-taught guitarist and a refugee from Syria, who now lives in Paphos.