31 January 2014 11:34

It is Wednesday, just after 11 in the morning and Rizokarpaso square is becoming more lively.
Wednesday is not just an ordinary day for the Greek Cypriot enclaved. It is the day that a United Nations Peacekeeping Force (UNFICYP) convoy will make its way to the village, carrying foodstuff, medicine and other items.
It is also a "social gathering", a day of getting together, catching up with each other's news. CNA has recently been on this trip to see and record what and how it happens.


 
At the end of the second phase of the Turkish invasion, in August 1974, around 20,000 Greek Cypriots and Maronite Cypriots, who lived in villages and small towns mainly in the Karpass peninsula on the north-eastern tip of Cyprus and the villages west of Kyrenia, remained behind the ceasefire line. They are the "enclaved".
By January 2014, and despite the agreement achieved in Vienna on August 2, 1975 under which the Turkish side undertook to give the enclaved population "every help to lead a normal life, including facilities for education and for the practice of their religion, as well as medical care by their own doctors and freedom of movement in the north", the number of enclaved dramatically declined. This was due to the constant harassment, including physical assault, restrictions on their movement, denial of access to adequate medical care, denial of adequate educational facilities, especially beyond the elementary school level, curtailment of their right to use and bequeath their immovable property and curtailment of freedom of worship in their churches and monasteries.
According to Liaison Assistant of the Civil Affairs Sector of UNFICYP, Doros Theodorou, around 460 people remain enclaved in the occupied areas - 360 Greek Cypriots and 120 Maronites. Most have chosen to stay in the villages, as they feel emotionally attached to their homes. They also hope that things will change for the better. Since the 1974 invasion, UNFICYP has been delivering supplies collected from the Cyprus Government Stores on a weekly basis.


Every Wednesday, UN trucks travel to Ayios Andronikos, Ayia Triada and Rizokarpaso as well as the Maronite villages of Asomatos, Karpashia and Kormakitis.
The aid includes vegetables, fruit, meat products, flour, oil, pulses, nappies, general cleaning items, medicine and other items.
This Wednesday is no exception. A number of trucks belonging to Greek Cypriot men have taken position along the side road of the derelict former Municipal Market of Rizokarpaso which was the heart and soul of the small town 40 years ago.
The men are there waiting for the UN convoy to help in the distribution of the supplies. Inside the market area, a small office with two tables, two cupboards and plastic chairs, many of them stacked high up, serves as an office. It is the area where the women are gathered. Many of them are elderly and each has a story to tell about their trials and endurance over the years.
Every story ends with the words, "Praise the Lord". They all hold large bags.



The gas heater is on full, toasting the atmosphere. Our presence, two women from the government controlled areas of the Republic, is a pleasant surprise to them.
A warm welcome awaits us, they offer us their seat, ask about us - our family names, our hometown or village to see if they know any of our relatives.



The only man in the group, Mr Yiannis tells me: "We have been through so much, dear. However things have got better."  He talks about his children - with a wide smile on his face - some of whom have remained in the Turkish-occupied areas and others are in the government-controlled part.
Behind him two elderly ladies bear the same name, Eleni. The eldest has a resilient look that time has not been able to wipe out. She says she lives alone. "I don't need help," she tells us.
The other Eleni appears more malleable and amiable. At the back of the room, in the middle, there is a desk.
Angeliki, a younger lady of nearly 40 with children, some still at the elementary school and a son recently married, welcomes us as she takes out her lists with details on who will get what and how much.
She has made an apple pie, all nicely packed and covered with cling film to keep fresh. The pie, together with a box of chocolates, is for UNFICYP personnel who are part of the convoy.
Her two sisters are also waiting patiently in the room. The convoy has arrived and everyone has taken position. The last to arrive are the men who were waiting at Mr Vasilis' coffee shop in the square, opposite Ayios Sinesios Church.
Their help is invaluable as many of them will also collect supplies for other Greek Cypriots who do not have a means of transport or have mobility problems.
Their job is to deliver the supplies to these people. UNFICYP men will supervise the procedure, help in unloading but also take a respite from the long journey. Angeliki has uncovered the apple pie and opened the box of chocolates.
The whole process begins and is fast. A van and a truck enter the market area while another truck full of gas bottles is outside.



The distribution commences with the gas bottles. Young enclaved men on the truck unload the bottles, replacing them with empty ones. Inside the market, the truck is open and the distribution of the water bottles starts.
Every person is entitled to a six-bottle pack. The elderly who were sitting inside the office have now moved outside to join the others who are patiently sitting, waiting for their names to be called.
They gather their supplies close to them until help arrives.
A young couple, Kypros and Voula, who are expecting their baby in three months, are waiting to fill their bags.
They have both preferred to stay on at Rizokarpaso despite the obstacles and unemployment.


 
Behind the water bottles are the vegetables and fruit. The unloading continues as they share jokes.
Last is the distribution of the frozen food and today it is chicken.
Members of UNFICYP unload the boxes from the fridge and position them in the area that in the past accommodated the butchers' area in the market.
"Every week we are going to government stores collecting all this food, water.
Today we have frozen food," Captain Eduard Barskiendes told CNA.
He also said they visit the Red Cross to collect wholemeal bread and medicine. Today they set for Ayios Andronikos Ayia Triada, Ayios Therisos and Rizokarpaso.
"Today we deliver bottles of gas. Next week we will collect the empty gas bottles and the week after we will bring back bottles of gas," he explained.
His colleague, Lisa Nolan, from Ireland said "I enjoy this work, people are happy, it is a chance to make them happy and it is part of our job".
The mission has been completed for this week.
The engines of the UNFICYP vehicles are turned on, ready to begin the journey back to Nicosia. The enclaved are asking us to return, to visit them at their home, they want to offer us something, show their hospitality.
Though we cannot overstay our welcome, we do not leave empty handed: two pieces of apple pie, oranges that were part of their supplies and two small sweet rusks prepared by an enclaved grandmother to celebrate her grandson's birthday. We leave Rizokarpaso with an air of optimism as these people remain genuine but also with a feeling of sadness lest the people in the government controlled areas have forgotten the enclaved, who embody one of the most painful aspects of the Cyprus problem.

By Emilia Christofi, Photos by Katia Christodoulou (CNA)
 


ShowBiz

Weather from k24.net

Radio Stations

CYPRUS MAP

Cyprus maps

City Centre Maps