Coronavirus has taken its toll on residents in the tourism-dependent Famagusta region, as more families than ever before need food packages provided by local charities to make ends meet as the festive season looms.
Some 200 families will be supported by Paralimni’s Ayios Christophoros Centre this year.
It is the highest number of households in need recorded by the foundation as the region relies heavily on a tourism industry decimated by COVID-19.
Popular resorts such as Ayia Napa and Protaras have seen hotels and restaurants shut for most of the season due to the pandemic.
In comments to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), the vice president of the foundation, Demetris Papaevelthontos said that the centre, in November had handed out support packages with essential items to some 150 families up from 120 in October.
“Winter in Famagusta is always hard, as many people working in the tourism industry are out of work and have reduced incomes.
“However, this year with the coronavirus pandemic and the lack of tourists, forcing most hotels and businesses related to the industry to close, unemployment has reached new heights”.
Papaevelthontos said that “in the summer of 2019, we had a small number of families who had approached the centre for help. This was not the case this year”.
He said that packages consist of food, vegetables, fruit, and other items which are offered to the centre by local producers and businesses.
Families are also in need of essential items such as diapers and baby food.
“There are other people who donate money to help with families who have problems in paying their water and electricity bills”.
Papaevelthontos urged people who can contribute milk products, meat, chicken, or turkeys for Christmas “Love Packages” for families in need to do so by contacting the centre.
Ayios Christophoros is a Non-Governmental Organization that operates a Social Grocery, hosts the “Lighthouse of Life” Special School for children with special abilities since 1998.
It also offers hospitality and palliative care to cancer patients and runs a hostel for victims of domestic violence.