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Testimony on the Migrant crisis in Cyprus.

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TMigrant crisis in Cyprushe Caritas Cyprus Migrant Centre

In Cyprus, migrants are often at the bottom of the government’s list of priorities, suffering great hardship, social exclusion and are well below the poverty line. However, one in five of the population in Cyprus is a migrant. Out  of them most of the asylum seekers are coming from African and Arab countries, Syria in particular. Cyprus is facing particularly difficult times due to the economic crisis and due to the instability of neighbouring countries.

The Caritas Cyprus Migrant Centre (CCyMC) helps these people throughout the island by providing legal, social and administrative advice to migrants and advocacy support to help them secure their basic needs. Migrants for CCyMC include domestic & agricultural workers, asylum seekers, refugees, victims of trafficking, college students, spouses of Cypriot and EU nationals and impoverished Europeans.

Testimonies
All names are fictional

D from the Middle East

“I am D from the Middle East. I came to Cyprus 25 years ago. I escaped from my country because of religious persecution. After obtaining refugee status in Cyprus, I worked running a restaurant and eventually had a construction building company.

However, when the crisis hit Cyprus in 2012, I suffered financial losses and lost my business. I moved to another EU country looking for a job. The problem was that I didn’t have a Cypriot passport. The travel document – usually the only ID document granted to recognised refugees in Cyprus – entitles me to visit an EU country but not to work there. After 3 months I was sent back to Cyprus.

I suffered a stroke and a mental breakdown which left me half paralysed and unable to work. When discharged from the hospital, I had nowhere to go and was placed in an old people’s home. After a month there, I was given 400 euros and forced to leave. I found myself homeless and in a poor medical state. I found help at the Caritas Cyprus Migrant Centre shelter in Nicosia and 5 months later I was able to move out into my own accommodation. After several requests to the government, I was eventually given welfare benefits.”

A from Syria

“My name is A and I am a Syrian Christian from Aleppo, aged 24. I have a degree in IT and can speak English. As the eldest of my family, I would be required to enrol in the Army after I graduated. But in February 2015, my family decided that due to the continued attacks on Christian areas of Syria, and in order to avoid my imminent recruitment by the army, I should leave Aleppo as soon as possible and go to Cyprus. The plan was that the rest of my family – my parents and 3 young brothers – would wait for my advice as to whether they should follow me to Cyprus or flee to another country.

After paying € 1,800 to the smugglers, I left Syria and travelled to Lebanon by bus; after that to Turkey by ship, with very bad weather; from Turkey, I somehow managed to arrive to northern Cyprus. I paid another €600 for boat and bus tickets and other expenses on the route. I walked to the border with southern Cyprus and declared myself as an asylum seeker to the Republic of Cyprus.

I had relatives in Limassol and made my way to them. I also got to know about the Caritas Cyprus Migrant Centre in Limassol and offered my services to them as a volunteer and translator. They received me as a brother.

I have never received any welfare nor housing benefits from the Government of Cyprus. In any case, my relatives and the Caritas Cyprus Migrant Centre have fully supported me. I have now been granted recognised refugee status from the Government of Cyprus, so I am free to seek employment, but due to the economic crisis there are no jobs in Cyprus; especially not for migrants. I am unable to travel to other European countries and seek employment there, because any travel document I can obtain (as I cannot be a Cypriot national for at least 7 years residency) will be valid for 3 months only.

Three months ago the home of my family was bombed. I would like my family to join me here but we don’t have the money to pay the smugglers. The cost payable to smugglers to get to other European countries is too high. Besides, I am not sure how my family will be able to look after themselves financially in Cyprus, without jobs or welfare.”

Caritas response

The parishes working with migrants have helped feed, house, clothe, provide transport, and arrange medical care for them. Since the last 6 months of 2014 those parishes have been providing groceries for about 200 migrant families (600 persons) monthly.

The CCyMC has established an itinerant migrant legal/administrative/social advice service providing services to migrants in all the parishes on a regular basis. During 2014 throughout Cyprus, the Caritas Cyprus Migrant Centre has assisted in more than 150 new cases of migrants with legal/social/administrative and status problems, in addition to about 100 cases continuing from the previous year.

Migrant crisis in Cyprus- Testimonies and how Caritas Cyprus Migrant Center reacts to this severe crisis. An article prepared by Caritas Europa.

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The Caritas Cyprus Migrant Centre is an autonomous sector of Caritas Cyprus and is made up of representatives from the parishes working with migrants of Limassol, Nicosia, Larnaca and Paphos under its Head Fr Jerzy Kraj and its Coordinator Dolores R Savvides. The Caritas Cyprus Migrant Centre is island-wide and is separate from the individual Caritas parishes.

The centre provides throughout the island legal, social and administrative advice to migrants and advocacy support to help them secure their basic needs. Migrants for CCyMC include domestic & agricultural workers, asylum seekers, refugees, victims of trafficking, college students, spouses of Cypriot and EU nationals and impoverished Europeans.

One in five of the population in Cyprus is a migrant with asylum seekers coming mostly from African and Arab countries, Syria in particular. Cyprus is facing particularly difficult times due to the division of the island with the Turkish Cypriots in the north, to the economic crisis and due to the instability of neighbouring countries. As a result, migrants are often at the bottom of the government’s list of priorities, suffering great hardship, social exclusion and are well below the poverty line.

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Testimonies

“My name is A and I am a Syrian Christian from Aleppo, aged 24. I have a degree in IT and can speak English. As the eldest of my family, I would be required to enrol in the Army after I graduated. But in February 2015, my family decided that due to the continued attacks on Christian areas of Syria, and in order to avoid my imminent recruitment by the army, I should leave Aleppo as soon as possible and go to Cyprus. The plan was that the rest of my family – my parents and 3 young brothers – would wait for my advice as to whether they should follow me to Cyprus or flee to another country.

After paying € 1,800 to the smugglers, I left Syria and travelled to Lebanon by bus; after that to Turkey by ship, with very bad weather; from Turkey, I somehow managed to arrive to northern Cyprus. I paid another €600 for boat and bus tickets and other expenses on the route. I walked to the border with southern Cyprus and declared myself as an asylum seeker to the Republic of Cyprus.

I had relatives in Limassol and made my way to them. I also got to know about the Caritas Cyprus Migrant Centre in Limassol and offered my services to them as a volunteer and translator. They received me as a brother.

I have never received any welfare nor housing benefits from the Government of Cyprus. In any case, my relatives and the Caritas Cyprus Migrant Centre have fully supported me. I have now been granted recognised refugee status from the Government of Cyprus, so I am free to seek employment, but due to the economic crisis there are no jobs in Cyprus; especially not for migrants. I am unable to travel to other European countries and seek employment there, because any travel document I can obtain (as I cannot be a Cypriot national for at least 7 years residency) will be valid for 3 months only.

Three months ago the home of my family was bombed. I would like my family to join me here but we don’t have the money to pay the smugglers. The cost payable to smugglers to get to other European countries will be about € 5,000 per person. Besides, I am not sure how my family will be able to look after themselves financially in Cyprus, without jobs or welfare.”

Caritas response

The parishes working with migrants have helped feed, house, clothe, provide transport, and arrange medical care for them. Since the last 6 months of 2014 those parishes have been providing groceries for about 200 migrant families (600 persons) monthly.

The CCyMC has established an itinerant migrant legal/administrative/social advice service providing services to migrants in all the parishes on a regular basis. During 2014 throughout Cyprus, the Caritas Cyprus Migrant Centre has assisted in more than 150 new cases of migrants with legal/social/administrative and status problems, in addition to about 100 cases continuing from the previous year.

Follow the link below to find and read the article at Caritas Europa website:

http://www.caritas.eu/news/migrant-crisis-in-cyprus

Major Earthquake hits Nepal-Let’s all pray for the victims.

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Prayer for Nepal

Loving God,

We pray for all those affected by the earthquake in Nepal as we offer the words of the psalmist, “Be strong and take heart, all who hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:25).

May those who are paralyzed by fear…
Be strong and take heart

May those who have lost or are still searching for loved ones …
Be strong and take heart

May those who remain trapped under rubble …
Be strong and take heart

May those rescue workers who provide relief and recovery …
Be strong and take heart

May those who are moved with compassion to help …
Be strong and take heart

God, whose love knows no bounds,
fill all those who suffer with your comfort and peace.
We ask all this through Christ, our Lord. Amen

Thanks to Catholic Relief Services for providing the prayer.11107167_10152848021441593_8031468190341518401_n[1]

Easter Message from H.E Archbishop Youssef Soueif

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All one in Christ Jesus

 

Dear Caritas Family,

 

After our Lent journey, here we are reaching the port of Life and Resurrection. The penitential tears along with the tears of our numerous brothers and sisters who are suffering all over the world, make us discover the face of the Merciful God who heals us all, either near or far, because He is God – Love, the source of hope for humanity.

 

Through the Risen Christ, the world re-enters in the harmony and we all become one in Him, because with Him “ There is neither Jew, nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28).  In Christ, we are “a New Creation” (2 Cor 5:17). In Him, the walls were destroyed and those new that we build, will certainly be destroyed again, because the power of love, of forgiveness, the strength of the Word and the Eucharist, will triumph over all the forces of the world.

 

In Christ,  we all become “one Human Family” seeking others  in the dynamism of “the Church which goes forth”,  meeting those who are “in the suburbs”, to extend  our hand to those deeply wounded by injustice, but healed by the power of Love.

 

The cry of the poor of our times is raised up to the heart of the Lord Jesus.  It is the cry of those who are placed at the margin of life, individuals and communities that are lost in the streets, that are homeless, refugees in camps, chased from their homes because of war and conflicts; the migrants, the prisoners, the trafficking victims, all those who suffer sickness and isolation in their proper house. Let us meet them by “The wisdom of the heart which is no theoretical knowledge, but a gift of the Spirit that allows people to be sensitive to the sufferings of their brothers and sisters and recognise in them the image of God”, as Pope Francis says.

 

It is worth bearing in mind the suffering of communities in Iraq, Syria and the Middle East; the Ebola victims and the war challenges in some African countries; the climate’s change negative effects, the lack of basic food and drinking water; the dead by natural disasters, particularly in Asia; seeking stability and social justice in South America; the big migrant movement towards North America and Oceania; the European economic crisis searching solidarity and social cohesion. All these human realities await the hand of Jesus to lie and touch their hearts. This is the Church’s mission to be “poor for the poor” as Pope Francis wishes; this is the meaning of Caritas as “diaconia”, manifesting God’s mercy to the world, renewed by hope.

 

Caritas is always called to be present and ready to accompany. Etymologically the accompaniment means (walking with = Syn Odos = Synod). It requests initiatives, no matter how big or small, but that are made only out of love, care, tenderness and perseverance, revaluing the human dignity. Caritas, the Church charitable instrument accomplishes an “organised charity” realised by our commitment, as clergy and laity. In this regard Pope Benedict mentions in Motu Proprio “Service of Charity”: “who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart”.

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 

I wish you a Glorious Feast of Resurrection in a warm family atmosphere where the Virgin Mary accompanies all of us to be one in the Risen Christ.

 

 

   Youssef Soueif

The Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

President of Caritas Cyprus

Member of the Executive Board

Nicosia, 25th March 2015

Caritas Europa, Europe 2020 Shadow Report, Edition 2014

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Caritas Europa, Europe 2020 Shadow Report, Edition 2014

Europe 2020: Where are we now and what way forward?

5 years after committing to poverty reduction & employment growth.

Proposals for the Annual Growth Survey, Country Specific Recommendations and National Policies. Caritas Recommendations for Europe 2020 Mid-Term Review.

Download link:

europe2020_shadowreport_2014