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€40 million spent on hosting Ukrainian refugees

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Ukrainians hold their country's flag in Larnaca

Cyprus has spent €40 million on hosting Ukrainian refugees, according to an Audit Office report released on Tuesday.

Of this amount, so far the European Commission has refunded Cyprus to the tune of €6.7 million.

The auditor-general looked into the matter after a question submitted by an MP regarding procedures for the hosting of Ukrainian refugees.

The reported expenditures cover the period March 22, 2022 to April 3, 2024. They relate only to accommodation, and do not include other assistance provided to Ukrainian refugees – medical care, benefits etc.

Ukrainian refugees have been put up at different hotels across the island – primarily in the Famagusta district, but also in Paphos and Nicosia.

The auditor-general recalls that the cabinet’s decision to host Ukrainian nationals stems from the European Council’s Implementing Decision 2022/382 regarding “the existence of a mass influx of displaced persons from Ukraine, and having the effect of introducing temporary protection”.

Despite the Republic’s obligation to provide temporary protected status to Ukrainian refugees, the Audit Office draws attention to the procedures by which accommodation arrangements were made.

The auditor says that at the start of the conflict in Ukraine, and due to the urgency of finding accommodation for these people, the government sidestepped normal procedures – authorities negotiated directly with the hotels without publishing a contract notice.

According to the Audit Office, this practice was perhaps permissible in the beginning, but should not have continued as it has done to the present day. From now on the government should publish such contract notices.

Nevertheless, it said it has no indications that the principles governing public contracting were violated.

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