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Defence minister commemorates 73 years since closure of Jewish detention camps

concentration camps
The remaining buildings at the former Jewish detention camp in Famagusta district

A monument dedicated to the Jewish Holocaust survivors who found temporary refuge to Cyprus after WWIII is a testament to the long-standing Cypriot Israeli friendship, Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides said on Monday.

The minister was speaking during the ceremony for the 73rd anniversary of the closure of detention camps for Jewish refugees and survivors of the Holocaust, which took place at the Vasilios Kapota camp in Famagusta where one of the camps was located.

The Holocaust was followed by its survivors’ long journey and “herculean efforts” to reach Israel, who faced with “many obstacles in the way” he said.

Petrides said that over 50,000 Jewish refugees that fled Europe to reach their homeland in the aftermath of the World War II from 1946 to 1949 passed through the island and stayed in detention camps. At that time Cyprus was still under British colonial rule.

“But that didn’t discourage or stop the Cypriots from providing assistance and help, in any way possible, to the stranded Jewish refugees” and forming close personal friendships with them, the minister added.

For three years, “many Cypriots made every effort to ease and alleviate the hardships of daily life for the stranded Jewish refugees living in the camps in Karaolos, Xylotymvou and Dhekelia or even helping them to escape and reach Israel.”

To commemorate the refugees’ journey, the defence ministry and the National Guard, established a monument within the former Military Hospital, which was the birthplace of over 2,000 Jewish children.

The monument, Petrides said, is a meaningful testament to the long standing Cypriot-Israeli friendship and people to people ties that were forged during that period.

Petrides also referred to the war in Ukraine and expressed Cyprus’ solidarity and admiration for the people and the government of the country for their courage and resilience.

“This war, like any other war, reminds us of the importance of working for peace, stability and prosperity,” he said, before ending his speech with a ‘thank you’ in Hebrew.

 

 

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