Dozens of Ukrainians in the Republic of Cyprus are running out of money and unable to benefit automatically from EU “temporary protection” measures because they visited the island as tourists before the cutoff date.
According to Philenews, an unknown number of Ukrainian tourists including dozens of children came to Cyprus as visitors before Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine on February 24.
The report suggested that a date of entry into the island prior to February 24 effectively rendered those Ukrainian tourists ineligible for Temporary Protection, a measure granted on March 4 by the European Union to people fleeing Ukraine after the Russian invasion was launched.
'They are telling us that those of us who came before February 24 do not have rights. That’s 90% of refugees now in Larnaca, we came before the war'
A woman from Kiev, who told the newspaper that she came to Larnaca with her husband, spoke on behalf of other Ukrainians trapped on the island. She said some people were able to extend their hotel stays, move to a hostel, or stay with other Ukrainian families.
“We came to Cyprus to visit some friends and then the war broke out,” she said, adding that a big problem for them was not only finding a place to stay but also their children not being able to go to school.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, government officials have been trying to organize plans for managing refugees from Ukraine.
Interior Minister Nicos Nouris was scheduled to have a meeting on Wednesday with other ministries to coordinate efforts on matters of accommodation, social welfare, access to employment, medical care, and education.
Locals offer to help
A local leader, who went on state radio Wednesday morning, said his community was ready to welcome Ukrainian refugees, adding some 20 individuals could be housed on school premises.
According to local media, businesses and communities on the island have been offering work and accommodation to war-fleeing Ukrainians.
Daily Politis reported that business leaders in Paphos said they were prepared to offer jobs to Ukrainian refugees in the hospitality sector, including work in restaurants, taverns, cafeterias, with free room and board.
But most of the people from Ukraine in Larnaca, a town on the southern coast popular with eastern European tourists, had visited the island before the official war started.
“They are telling us that those of us who came before February 24 do not have rights. That’s 90% of refugees now in Larnaca, we came before the war,” the woman from Kiev said.