Dozens of Ukrainian families who were vacationing in Cyprus have been stranded in the island after their homeland was invaded by Russian troops last week, a representative from the Ukrainian community in Cyprus told the Cyprus Mail Wednesday.
Olena Andreou, a resident of Cyprus for the past 17 years, has been travelling across the island providing help to about 100 Ukrainians who came to the island for holidays and are unable to return to their homeland.
One of them, a couple with their nine-year-old daughter in Larnaca, requires medical attention as the mother is seven months pregnant, said Andreou after paying them a visit early Wednesday.
For now, they are hosted by a Cypriot family, but Andreou said their money is running out and they will soon be needing additional support to cover their needs.
“I will shortly meet with another couple who is here with their three children, aged 3 to 13,” she added.
The Ukrainian community of Cyprus has assigned people to help in every district, however they must also work through language barriers since very few speak Greek.
They have contacted the embassy of Ukraine in the island, but they are also “drowning” in requests, the representative explained.
“Everything has been extremely difficult and stressful. My days do not start with coffee or tea anymore, they begin with a countless phone calls.”
The silver lining is that Cypriots have been welcoming of the Ukrainian refugees, with many local families calling “in tears” to offer their home, clothes, food or other items.
But there are also locals who are calling because they still have families in Ukraine and are trying to find a way to evacuate them, Andreou said.
Meanwhile, two Ukrainian women who managed to escape the war using their own means arrived at Paphos international airport late on Tuesday. They came with their two children, aged four and five.
“They arrived without luggage. They didn’t have time to make a suitcase,” Andreou said, adding she will soon visit them to give them clothes and shoes.
The two mothers were picked up at the airport by a Ukrainian permanent resident of Nicosia who offered to host them at her house.
But not everyone has been as lucky.
“I know that many families did not make it. They were killed on the road,” Andreou said.
“You call and you wait with pain and tears for the response. There are numbers that will never answer again.”
The UN rights office, OHCHR, has confirmed 536 civilian casualties across Ukraine, including 13 children, since the first day of invasion on Thursday.
Donations are collected in most municipalities, as well as by the Ukrainian community.
The embassy of Ukraine in Cyprus was not able to respond by the time of publication.