Call centre to help Ukrainian refugees

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Authorities launched a call centre for Ukrainian refugees who may be unaware of the services available to them, such as accommodation, education and healthcare.

It follows reports that Ukrainian refugees are not aware of the help provided by the state, as only 10 out of the 9,5000 refugees on the island have applied to stay at one of the 3,000 hotel rooms commissioned by the government.

Phileleftheros daily highlighted the story of a Ukrainian resident desperately trying to find out information on available accommodation for his 13 relatives on their way from Mariupol, which Russian airstrikes have destroyed.

He had called the police, the airports and the Interior Ministry, with no official was able to provide information on accommodation options.

Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios confirmed that just 10 Ukrainian refugees have applied to use the hotel accommodation offered by authorities, despite a high number of refugee arrivals.

“This, however, does not mean that all the refugees need accommodation.

“Some have secured accommodation through their employers, and others opted to stay with friends and relatives,” said Perdios.

He added that some refugees might be waiting for their residency cards issued by authorities, which is a prerequisite to obtaining accommodation at one of the hotels secured by the junior ministry.

“We are certain that the number of Ukrainian refugees applying for accommodation will increase in the coming days.

“The Ukrainian Embassy and the Interior Ministry are informed of the availability of some 3,000 rooms, which can accommodate up to 9,000 people”.

Perdios said ten hotels in the Famagusta region had been commissioned with the Evalena Hotel in Protaras catering to the first Ukrainian refugees.

Interior Ministry spokesperson Loizos Michael confirmed that as of 28 March, some 9,500 Ukrainian refugees had made their way to Cyprus.

“Around 180-190 people of all ages are arriving every day,” said Michael, who added that most Ukrainian refugees are picked up at airports by family.

Michael said that some children have applied to continue their education at Cyprus schools.

Refugees can apply for and receive temporary protection status.

They can visit the website of the Asylum Service, where there is a reference with the relevant application form.

“Those interested can fill in their details and within 24 hours will receive approval and be called to the Aliens and Immigration Service offices to give their biometric data to receive an electronic card that will act as a residence permit for one year,” said Michael.

With the card, they will have all the rights that a European citizen has in the Republic.

That is free access to the job market, legal residence, healthcare, access to benefits and education.

The call centre is operational in Greek and English from 8 am to 8 pm from Monday to Friday.

For Cypriot phones, dial 1477, and for foreign phone numbers: +357 22 285777