AN URGENT appeal for funds and necessities is being made by Caritas volunteers in Paphos to help an eight-year old Syrian boy and his family as he undergoes a life-saving operation in Germany to remove a brain tumour.
Ahmed Al Shiko was rushed to Germany on Thursday night, accompanied by his father, Abdo, after doctors at Makarios hospital decided he needed to be transferred for specialised surgery, according to volunteer, Rehab Al Habrat.
“He has been at Makarios hospital for around two weeks and had an operation there, but it wasn’t successful and now they are trying to save his life in Germany,” she told the Cyprus Mail on Friday, “they have been told that they will have to stay there for six months.”
Al Habrat has lived in Cyprus for 15 years and volunteers with both the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and Caritas, a charity working with refugees.
Although the state will pay for the child’s medical treatment, the cost of the father’s flights to and from Germany, food and accommodation are not covered.
“The mother is in a terrible state, she is devastated and crying all the time, terrified that Ahmed will die and that she will never see her son again,” said Al Habrat.
Ahmed and his family arrived in Cyprus around six months ago, fleeing Aleppo in Syria and arriving on the island illegally by boat. The family claimed asylum and have just this week received the first financial assistance from the Cyprus government. Before that, they received coupons for a short time, which have since stopped, said the volunteer.
According to the European Commission, before a person can receive asylum, they must be recognised as a refugee or as a beneficiary of subsidiary protection. The relevant directive aims to ensure that people fleeing persecution, wars and torture are treated fairly, in a uniform manner throughout the EU.
Refugees are entitled to immediate material reception conditions which include accommodation, food clothing and medical care. These are offered at the Kofinou reception centre where they are the responsibility of the interior ministry and the asylum services, but as the centre has become full, refugees leave there and in effect often become homeless.
The responsible ministry is then the ministry of labour and the social welfare department. They are then supposed to be given food coupons, a small allowance to cover electricity and water and a rent allowance.
“They managed to stay with a friend in the beginning and Abdo got work building, so they could share food and rent. Another Syrian lent them money to get a flat and they moved.”
However, the apartment which is cheap because it is run down, in urgent need of repair, very cold, full of mould and overrun by cockroaches.
“We [Caritas Paphos)]have helped with some furniture, food and clothes, but we can only give so much as we have 45 other families, some with eight children, that are desperate for help as well. More and more families arrive all the time,” Al Habrat said.
Around two weeks ago, Ahmed had a high fever and head pain during the night and his parents took him to Paphos General hospital in a friend’s car, where he was given some medication, told to wait for 15 minutes and then sent home.
He didn’t improve and so his parents took him back to the hospital and he underwent a number of tests including an MRI scan. The boy was immediately transferred to Makarios hospital in Nicosia for treatment.
“The government gave Abdo permission to travel with his son as he is a minor. It is good that they are helping the sick child, but the family really need more help,” Al Habrat said.
Caritas are appealing for cash donations for the family that can be made through their Cyprus branches and will be transferred to Caritas in Germany, ensuring that funds will get to Abdo and his son.
In addition, the mother and two young children, a four-year-old girl and a son who is under a year old, are in need of, food, clothing, heaters, blankets and warm clothes.
Items such a nappies, baby food, powdered baby milk, baby clothes and wipes are also needed.
The couples’ youngest child was also taken ill four days ago and Al Habrat drove him and his mum to the hospital. As the family is living in such cold conditions and without a heater, the baby is suffering from a terrible chest infection and was given a course of medication and antibiotics.
“The mum is also now so afraid for the health of this child too,” she said.
For further information or to help: Wendy Burdon, Caritas, Paphos: Tel : 99040294