How a Cyprus charity realigned its services to face the pandemic

Author: Hyunah Kim

This article is part of Changing the Narrative. Articles in this series are written by student or early-career journalists who took part in The Local’s training course on solutions-focused migration reporting. Find out more about the project here.

When the Cypriot government announced strict Covid-19 restrictions at the end of March 2020, Rodrigue Ndiane who is from Cameroon and arrived in Cyprus in September 2019, was forced to isolate in a three-square-meter room with five tenants who shared the same space.

The restaurant in Limassol where Ndiane worked shut its doors, and he lost his job.

All grocery stores had to shut down, and migrants with no working contracts were not able to receive proper support from the government but were forced into quarantine, which made it difficult for them to buy food or other necessary items. The coupons issued by the welfare service could only be exchanged at a specific shop: 1.5 hours away by bus.

“Given that we were only allowed two hours a day to comply with our daily needs, it was stressful with an impression of being used by the system and irritating when many of us were caught out and charged by the police for [breaking curfew]. As we cannot do anything that’s against the system, we had to call for help at the Dignity Centre,” Ndiane says.

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