A memorial plaque was unveiled on Tuesday at Limassol port in Cyprus to honor the Greek families which provided accommodation to thousands of children from Cyprus right after the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island.
The plaque, at the passengers’ terminal, was unveiled by Minister of Transport Yiannis Karousos who spoke of the "selfless love, giving and solidarity" of the families who took these children in their homes and provided food and shelter to them for a number of years.
The first ship “Patras” with refugee children from Cyprus left Limassol port on September 21, 1974, with 456 children onboard, ages 6-17 years. This was an initiative by Ilia Bishopric in Greece. Three more groups of children followed and the number reached, according to figures, more than 2.000 during the school year of 1974-1975.
Karousos said that refugee families also found shelter in Greece and were given accommodation by local authorities but the numbers are not precise.
These children were provided accommodation all over Greece, in Athens, Thessaloniki, Kavala, Komotini, Ioannina, Mesologgi, Volos, Patras, Zakynthos, Tripoli, Crete, Chios and Ilia.
The Minister said that, currently, Cyprus is providing accommodation and assistance to children from Ukraine.
Limassol mayor Nicos Nicolaides expressed his gratitude for what Greece offered to children who fled the island because of the invasion and referred to former mayor Christodoulos Sozos who fought during the Balkan wars and perished in the frontline.
Head of the initiative group for the accommodation of children in Greece Andreas Theodosiou spoke of the memories of those days and how hard it was for small children to leave their families behind for a better life.
He also said that an event will take place in Ilia where most of the kids were accommodated and that a documentary is underway.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results.