Pupils from ten schools in Cyprus were the first to be presented with the "Young Ambassadors Asylum" award for action on asylum issues and political refugees in Cyprus, the Asylum Awareness Campaign website has announced.
During a seminar entitled 'Young Ambassadors for asylum' which was held on March 26 at the Headquarters of the Youth Board of Cyprus, students presented original and creative ideas and opinions about asylum issues.
The seminar was established in the framework of the "campaign to raise awareness and inform the public in Cyprus on issues related to the beneficiaries of international protection" and is co-funded by the European Refugee Fund and the Republic of Cyprus.
In light of European Action Week Against Racism, students sent a message of solidarity and respect for diversity. On behalf of the head of the United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) in Cyprus Damtew Dessalengne, Emily Strovolidou said that informing society is essential, particularly in terms of correct and comprehensive information for students who would soon vote and maybe later find themselves in decision-making centres.
She also urged students to say no to stereotypes and prejudices and spread a message of solidarity to refugees and the message of conservation of the democratic institution of asylum.
Also addressing the event President of the Youth Board of Cyprus Panayiotis Sentonas said that "as we are more tolerant to intolerant behaviour the more we contribute to undermining the cohesion of society, waste of talent, the crowding out of productive people and strangle creativity.
"That's why today's meeting is essential and beneficial, because it contributes to building a different Cyprus which is open-minded and creative," Sentonas said. The seminar was attended by 45 high school students from lyceums in Kokkinohoria Foti Pitta, Ayios Ioannis Limassol , Latsia, Paralimni, Agios Spyridon , Agios Haralambos Empa , Giannaki Tallioti Yeroskipou, Apostolos Markou Archangelos, Makarios Larnaca and Paliometocho M.Koutsofta -A . Panayides. Through presentations and videos the students presented stories of refugees, while a particularly special moment occurred during the seminar when a Palestinian refugee who attends one of the schools had the opportunity to share her story. The students are the first Cypriots to be awarded the honorary title "Young Ambassadors for asylum" by the UNHCR.