Alexia Panayiotou 0

Do not close UNICEF Cyprus!

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UNICEF Geneva has decided to close its UNICEF office in Cyprus. This is detrimental not only to the tens of thousands of children that the Office's fundraising efforts benefit, but also to the hundreds of impoverished families in Cyprus that the Office supports. Through the Office's supplemental efforts in the last few years, which have been above and beyond its official mandate, the Office in Cyprus has given at least a thousand families meals, Christmas and Easter goods, school supplies, clothing and shoes, free entertainment and, above all, HOPE. The decision to close the Office comes at the worst time for Cyprus which has been hit hard by the financial crisis, with unemployment and poverty rates similar to those in the aftermath of the 1974 invasion. UNICEF has a strong presence in Cyprus of over 30 years, sending to UNICEF Geneva-- at least until recently, before the crisis-- the equivalent of one euro per Cypriot in the form of aid; eg. nearly a million euros per year to UNICEF Geneva! This is not a negligible amount and we do not understand why UNICEF Geneva thinks it is negligible. In addition, and just as important, UNICEF Cyprus has created a strong volunteer culture and an even stronger awareness among the Cypriot population about the plight of children around the world. Children as young as 3 know from their school bazaars what UNICEF is and what it does and UNICEF Cyprus has made Cypriot children feel empowered to help their peers in need, even through the symbolic act of buying a pencil or a card. PLEASE keep the office in Cyprus! It is not only big countries and big donors who matter in the global efforts against child poverty. ALL can make a difference-- and we do!

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