European countries have been welcoming war-fleeing Ukrainians in the last few days, prompting Cyprus’ president to step in following complaints about PCR costs, but other reports suggested foreigners inside the former soviet republic were being treated differently including ethnic Greeks.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades issued an executive order on Monday saying all Ukrainian refugees arriving in the Republic of Cyprus would not be charged for PCR tests upon arrival.
Anastasiades ordered the government to cover the costs after complaints emerged on social media following a flight from Warsaw on Sunday, according to Philenews.
Critics said it was hypocritical for the Cypriot government to set up a bank account to help Ukrainians and at the same time charge exhausted refugees for PCR tests
The report said Ukrainian women and children passengers on the flight had been asked by airport officials in Cyprus to pay €15 per person, meaning a mother with two kids would need to shell out 45 euro for PCR tests.
People on social media who criticized the policy had suggested it was “hypocritical” for the Cypriot government to set up a bank account to help Ukrainians while at the same time charging exhausted refugees who had taken buses to Poland days before flying to the island.
But there were also reports from Ukraine that international students were not allowed to be bussed out of the country as priority, with a CNN report saying “foreigners were ordered off the public transit bus at a checkpoint between Ukraine and Poland border.”
Foreigners fleeing Ukraine cry foul
CNN also reported that a Nigerian first-year medical student in Lviv was left stranded at a border town hundreds of miles from Kiev.
"More than ten buses came and we were watching everyone leave. We thought after they took all the Ukrainians they would take us, but they told us we had to walk, that there were no more buses and told us to walk," the student was quoted as saying.
More than half a million people have fled Ukraine since Russia troops invaded the country according to the United Nations’ refugee agency UNHCR.
But war-fleeing refugees did not include military-age men after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy prohibited them from leaving, essentially allowing primarily women, children and the elderly to exit the country.
Greek man in Mariupol afraid to leave
A Greek man in Mariupol, a port city under siege, was asked by a Greek television network on Monday why he was not leaving the area.
“How can you leave? If you go out in the street you might bump into the Azov Battalion, who are Ukrainian fascists and this whole thing is because of them, and they can kill you,” he told Skai TV.
But another Greek man in Kiev told a Cypriot television network that things were calm in the capital. He said he worried but not afraid, adding that he realized the situation in the south was difficult after talking with journalist friends in Mariupol.
“Look, I don’t believe Russians will go into Kiev and start shooting people. The specific goal is to overthrow the government, nothing else. If they wanted to level Kiev they would have done it in one or two hours,” he said.
“Ukrainian forces, thank god, remain strong and we shall see,” he concluded.
The Russian News Agency on Tuesday said two humanitarian corridors were being organized for the evacuation of Mariupol residents until Wednesday, suggesting Russia’s Armed Forces and pro-Russia local militia would “guarantee the safety of movement” in certain sections along specific routes.