Fund raiser in Cyprus for destroyed hospitals in Serbia

By Kyriacos Kyriacou – Nicosia

Humanitarian organisation “Volunteer Doctors of Cyprus” is planning a fund raiser at the beginning of July in Cyprus aiming in rebuilding and reequipping destroyed medical care infrastructure in Serbia, a Balkan country, along with Bosnia and Croatia, devastated by flood damage. The organization launched a humanitarian mission in Serbia on the 20th May, in cooperation with the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Serbia in Cyprus. The aim of the mission was to help the victims of the catastrophic flood, with the participation of three doctors and two nurses having huge experience in similar natural disaster. Honorary President of the Volunteer Doctors of Cyprus, re-elected MPE, Head of the Cypriot delegation of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, Dr. Eleni Theocharous speaks to IBNA about this important humanitarian mission and describes the current situation in destroyed Serbia. Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner EU, International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response was informed about the mission.

Danger for epidemic outbreaks

What was the mission of the Volunteer Doctors-Cyprus in Serbia?

It was an exploratory mission, where experienced members of the organization, who have participated in missions to disaster-stricken areas across the globe, visited the affected areas in Serbia, assessed the situation and in collaboration with local authorities determined short-medium-and long-term needs. As needs, we define the necessary means to overcome possible health related hazards, which could range from minimizing the chances of epidemic outbreaks to repairing damages to medical care infrastructure. Of course, as a humanitarian organization we cannot overlook the immediate need of humanitarian aid to the thousands displaced, many of whom have lost their homes and businesses and have been left destitute.

A few words about the team and the help provided?

Two doctors and two nurses took part in this mission. Dr. Andreas Neophytou, a surgeon who participated in many missions before and operated under adverse conditions, led the team and was assisted by Dr. Marios Theodorou, a pathologist. The nurses were Despo Plyta, a senior RN who has taken part in missions since the establishment of the organization twenty years ago, and Anna Michaelidou RN. All members participated in meetings with officials at the Serbian Ministry of Health, the Epidemiology Center and the Emergency Relief Center sharing their own expertise at each instance and were also taken to observe conditions on-the-spot. It must be noted that our team was impressed with the high level of organization exemplified by the Serbian state.

“It will take time to recover damages”

How bad is the situation in Serbia?

The situation is quite serious due to the extent of damage suffered and the significant population affected. Current conditions will take time to correct and repairs to the country’s infrastructure will most likely take years to complete. For example, our mission visited a hospital completely destroyed by the floods, which of course will need to be rebuild and reequipped as soon as possible. Our organization is planning a fund raiser to this purpose at the beginning of July, in Cyprus.

Why Serbia? What are the bonds with Cyprus?

There are strong bonds between Cyprus and Serbia, forged by our parallel respective history and our orthodox tradition. In the 1990s I and the newborn Medicines du Monde Cyprus, our organization,  realized several missions to Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo, during the wars in these regions in solidarity to all those in need. It was a brave period for MDM, when   under war conditions; we gained great and valuable   experiences under extreme conditions.  Also, there is a sizable Serbian community established in Cyprus since about that time.

Promoting human rights

Congratulation for your re-election in the European Parliament. What are your main goals for your new term as an MEP?

My main endeavor is to continue my active role in promoting the universal implementation of human rights. We sometimes forget that we need to protect and promote the application of the most basic of rights for EU citizens since we seem to take them for granted. My fellow Cypriots, who have had to cope with the consequences of the 1974 Turkish invasion, have had also to face the extreme imposed measure of the “bail-in” last year which utterly shuttered our economy, deprived thousands of EU citizens of their lawful savings and led tens of thousands more to the unemployment lines.