COVID19: Cyprus to send medical supplies to Turkish Cypriots

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Cyprus will be sending medical supplies and protective gear to hospitals in the occupied north to help Turkish Cypriot authorities in their fight to stem the spread of coronavirus.

President Nicos Anastasiades discussed over the phone the situation with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci regarding the outbreak in the two communities.

Following the discussion, government spokesperson Kyriacos Koushos issued a statement saying the president has responded positively to the request made by Akinci, concerning the dispatch of medical supplies.

The two leaders agreed to be in constant touch about COVID-19 issue and to strengthen the efforts of the bicommunal Technical Committee on Health.

The supplies, including chloroquine, will be dispatched this week.

In a tweet, Leonidas Phylaktou, the Greek Cypriot head of the bicommunal Technical Committee on Health, said the government will do its best to meet the request of the Turkish Cypriots.

“I believe that, where possible, all requests have been met.”

Akinci has come under fire in asking for help from Greek Cypriots by extreme right-wing circles such as the Nationalistic Rebirth Party, which has two representatives in the Turkish Cypriot assembly.

In a statement, the Turkish Cypriot leader replied: “It is difficult to believe how much hatred some people have in their hearts, especially at a time like this”.

Akinci said he did not act alone in requesting specific medical supplies, as the needs were calculated by the Turkish Cypriot members of the bicommunal Technical Committee on Health.

The Turkish Cypriot economy is going through, what is believed to be its biggest financial crisis since the formation of the breakaway state in 1983, following the 1974 Turkish invasion.

Turkish Cypriot authorities are to receive a TL 1.5 bln (€200 mln) emergency aid package from Ankara, which is not considered to be enough to cover damages to the north’s TL 30 bln (€4 bln) economy.

The authorities have already introduced a pay cut of 25% on civil servant’s wages which are above the minimum TL 5000 (€682).

Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot authorities have suspended the entry of UN peacekeepers to the north for a week, evoking concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus.

The peacekeeping force UNFICYP has said that they are working to address practical problems that emerge as a result of this decision.

The ban also includes enclaved Greek Cypriots, who receive aid and medical supplies from the Republic with the support of UNFICYP.