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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-02-01

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Friday, February 1, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] 'You can't just pull children from their home overnight ...it's a long process'
  • [02] Black or white taxis
  • [03] Five rescued from blazing building
  • [04] Turkish general's visit 'not helpful'
  • [05] Spain: 'enlargement without Cyprus is inconceivable'
  • [06] Turkey in the dock over Adali murder
  • [07] Bank robbery suspect rearrested on new police evidence
  • [08] Susan finds her long-lost Cypriot dad
  • [09] Cyprus to ease foreign deposit ban
  • [10] Gas safety warning in wake of blasts

  • [01] 'You can't just pull children from their home overnight ...it's a long process'

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE SOCIAL Welfare Department has come under fire for its alleged shortcomings in the case of the five neglected children taken from their home.

    But social workers say the protection of minors from abuse and neglect within the family is a delicate issue that needs handling with great care.

    Anita Koni, who heads family welfare service at the department, told the Cyprus Mail that dealing with such cases was not as straightforward as people often thought.

    Though she was unwilling to talk about the family at the centre of the case, citing professional confidentiality, she described the department's procedures and the difficulties involved.

    Koni said children were only removed from the family home in extreme cases. Once a complaint is filed, social workers must first examine the case and try to improve the home environment.

    Only when repeated attempts to improve the situation with parental co- operation have failed can the department intervene and remove a minor from the home. This can be done with parental consent, or through the lengthy procedure of a court order, as happened in this case.

    "But there are a number of loopholes in the law that thwart us from protecting children the way we would like," she admitted.

    She regretted that courts did not always consider psychological or emotional abuse reason enough to remove a child from home. Family privacy laws also prevented professionals from being able to enter a home and act on a case immediately, Koni said.

    She said that before children were taken from the home, social workers examined their basic and emotional needs, getting an all-round picture of the home environment.

    "We look at whether or not they have food to eat, if they have the appropriate clothes to wear according to the weather, if the house is clean, if the children are being beaten, if they go to school, if they have access to medical care. All these are primary, basic needs that must be satisfied so the child can grow up in a healthy environment."

    Koni said the next stage was to look at the emotional relationship between child and parent. In such cases, psychologists and social workers would work with parents to help them understand that their children also had emotional needs.

    Only if prolonged attempts to improve the situation failed did the department start to think of moving them to foster homes. Koni said that although they did try to keep siblings together it was not always possible.

    The foster home option is a way for children to learn to live in a safe and secure environment, with positive messages about family life and values from those around them, she said.

    "Abused or neglected children often do not know that there is anything better out there, and believe what they are subjected to is the norm. Abuse becomes a way of life and the older they get the more emotional baggage they carry with them."

    She said the first five years of life were crucial in personality development, so the longer a child lived in an abusive environment the more likely it was to be scarred for life.

    "There have been times when children stay in custody until the age of 18," Koni said. "However, it is the department's policy to always try and get children to go back to the home, if the situation there improves.

    "If the reasons we took the child out of the home have changed over time, then the child is allowed to visit for weekends. If during these visits the parents or parent shows interest it will show. We also talk to the child and find out if the change is genuine.

    "The visits then increase, and finally the child is re-integrated into the family home. A social worker then keeps an eye on the family for a period of time, no longer than three years in extreme cases, and finally lets it develop independently of the department."

    But, she added, if there were reports of abuse re-occurring another file was opened and the whole process started over.

    Another social worker, Toulla Michaelides, said the department responded to any reports of abuse or neglect, whether they were named or anonymous.

    "It is every Cypriot citizen's duty to report such cases to us," said Michaelides, "and the Social Welfare Department will always look into every individual case."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Black or white taxis

    AFTER a long discussion yesterday, the House plenum approved regulations by which new taxis in Cyprus would have to be painted either black or white.

    The plenum also banned the transfer of taxi licences, a provision which sparked unrest among taxi owners last year when they pressured the House into postponing discussion of the bill three times.

    Owners argued that if they were not allowed to sell their licences they would end up with very little money. The transfer of taxi licences usually yields the seller around 30,000.

    Yesterday, the plenum decided that new urban taxis would have to be black or white while service cabs would be of a deep blue colour. The government initially wanted to introduce an off-white colour for all taxis but apparently heeded strong pressure from taxi unions.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Five rescued from blazing building

    By George Psyllides

    FIVE people were rescued from a blazing building in the centre of Nicosia last night and a TV cameraman who rushed to the scene was treated in hospital for smoke inhalation.

    The fire at the Bali nightclub, in the Kolokasis area, was noticed by a passer- by at around 6.20pm. The fire service arrived within minutes but the fire had already spread to the first floor of the three-storey building.

    Several explosions were heard, according to eyewitnesses, and thick, black smoke engulfed the building, trapping five people who were visiting a doctor's surgery on the second floor.

    The fire service, which scrambled with six engines and a turntable, evacuated the trapped people who, apart from minor smoke inhalation, did not suffer any other injuries. But a cameraman who tried to enter the building had to be taken to hospital where he was treated for smoke inhalation.

    The blaze was put under control around one and a half hours later but, according to reports, it had already gutted an adjacent flat. The fire service said the ground floor was destroyed while the first and second floors were substantially damaged.

    Fire service Chief George Hadjigeorgiou, who directed the operation, said the engines were on the scene two minutes after the emergency call. He said investigations into the blaze would begin first thing today though a crew remained on the scene overnight.

    Reports said that the nightclub had not been insured.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Turkish general's visit 'not helpful'

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE GOVERNMENT said yesterday that the visit to the occupied north of the Commander of Turkish Land Forces was unhelpful at a time when the two sides were engaged in intensive talks to solve the Cyprus problem.

    "This visit is not a positive development, especially when the general's remarks reiterate Turkey's unacceptable positions on Cyprus and suggest, albeit in a disguised manner, that Ankara means its threats against Cyprus, " said Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou.

    General Hilmi Ozkok warned on Wednesday that the Turkish armed forces would carry out their duty if a crisis erupted in the region, should the talks fail because of outside intervention.

    Ozkok's comments were apparently directed at the European Union, which has said it will accept a divided Cyprus if the talks break down. Ankara has threatened to annex the occupied areas should that happen.

    But Papapetrou yesterday glossed over the General's other statements in support of the renewed peace process.

    "As the Turkish Armed Forces, we support the direct talks," Ozkok told Denktash on Wednesday.

    He went on to say that: "we hope that the relevant sides will not obstruct this opportunity you created. Otherwise, the eastern Mediterranean will be dragged into perpetual crisis."

    "Of course it's very good that he supports the talks," Papapetrou told Cyprus Mail, "but the support must be substantiated and not just verbal. The rest of his comments annulled the support he extended at the beginning.

    "This visit at this period in Cyprus is not something I would call positive or helpful for the peace process and the good climate which should prevail, " the spokesman added.

    Papapetrou is one of three members of the advisory team assisting President Glafcos Clerides in face-to-face negotiations with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Yesterday's extra meeting between the two sides lasted the customary 90 minutes and was held in the appointed premises in the UN-controlled buffer zone near the Nicosia airport.

    The last scheduled meeting of the week takes place today in the same place at 5pm.

    All sessions are also being attended by UN Special Adviser to Cyprus Alvaro de Soto and his aides.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Spain: 'enlargement without Cyprus is inconceivable'

    SPAIN, the current president of the European Union, said yesterday that EU enlargement was inconceivable without Cyprus and that the process was irreversible.

    The statement was made by Madrid's first resident Ambassador to Cyprus, Ignacio Garcia Valdecasas, who said the opening of a Spanish Embassy in Nicosia was, "a bet on a reunited Cyprus, on the two communities of the island living together again and giving, each of them, its best for the prosperity and well being" of the island.

    Presenting his credentials to President Glafcos Clerides, the Spanish Ambassador said the current Spanish EU presidency would do its utmost to give a definitive impulse to the Cyprus accession negotiations.

    "The process of enlargement is irreversible and can hardly be understood without Cyprus," said Garcia Valdecasas, adding: "We will do our utmost to give a definitive impulse to the accession negotiations of the Republic of Cyprus."

    Clerides said he was "attending the talks, as we have in the past, in good faith and with the necessary political will to achieve a settlement of the Cyprus problem based on the relevant UN resolutions, the two high level agreements, with respect of human rights of all Cypriots and in accordance with the EU's acquis communautaire."

    "It is our earnest hope that the Turkish side will negotiate in the same spirit so as to achieve the reunification of the island. thereby offering to all Cypriots the possibility of benefiting from being part of the European Union," he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Turkey in the dock over Adali murder

    By Jennie Matthew

    TURKEY was in the dock at the European Court of Human Rights again yesterday, in a hearing over its alleged complicity in the assassination of a prominent Turkish Cypriot journalist in 1996.

    Kutlu Adali, 61, was shot dead outside his home in occupied Nicosia on July 6, 1996.

    Although his murder was denounced widely in the north, including by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, no one has ever been arrested for the crime.

    Shortly after, the Turkish Revenge Brigade, a right wing underground group, allegedly telephoned Kibris newspaper to claim responsibility for the assassination.

    His wife Ilkay first lodged the case with the European Court in 1997, but the hearing was only heard yesterday morning in Strasbourg.

    Judges will deliberate in private over whether to try Turkey on nine counts of human rights' abuses, including denial of the rights to life, family life and effective remedy, degrading treatment and discrimination, denial of determination of civil rights within a reasonable time and freedom of expression and association.

    Ilkay believes Turkey and/or the self-styled 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' murdered her husband in order to silence his harsh criticism of the Turkish occupation and settlers.

    She claims the official investigation launched into his murder was inadequate, denying her civil right to compensation in the north.

    The ECHR heard yesterday that her husband had received death threats because of his articles and political opinions.

    Since his death, Ilkay claims to have been subject to harassment, intimidation and discrimination. She says her telephone is bugged, her correspondence read and that plain-clothes 'policemen' follow her.

    Born in 1935 and educated in southern Turkey, Adali was dismissed from the 'civil service' when he said Turkish settlers had "affected the demographic structure of Cyprus".

    He became a columnist for Yeni Duzen, the mouthpiece of the Republican Turkish Party, in 1987 and was a founding member of the Cyprus Peace Association.

    "Mr Adali was a well-known writer who had written and published articles strongly criticising the policies and practices of the Turkish government and the 'TRNC' authorities. He argued that Cyprus should not be divided and that Turkish and Greek Cypriots should live in a united republic based on a pluralist democratic system," read a statement issued by the Strasbourg court yesterday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Bank robbery suspect rearrested on new police evidence

    NEW evidence reveals a bank robbery suspect had been planning his heist for three months, Limassol court heard yesterday.

    On the basis of fresh testimony gathered by investigating officers, Stelios Xenophontos, 39, was rearrested on Wednesday on suspicion of stealing 10, 000 from the Bank of Cyprus in Amathus and threatening the bank teller with two shotguns. The attack took place on January 17.

    He had been arrested immediately after the attack, but was released for lack of evidence.

    The raid sparked a national debate about the need for heightened security measures in banks after a wave of high profile bank robberies at the end of last year.

    Limassol District Court yesterday remanded Xenophontos in custody for eight days.

    Police say Xenophontos colluded with a second person over the use of two getaway cars and two sawn-off shotguns.

    They believe the suspect met up with Christakis Charalambous Patataris, 38, who is also in custody in connection with the case, before the hold-up.

    The two getaway cars have been found, police have still failed to locate the stolen money, the weapons and other key objects related to the case.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Susan finds her long-lost Cypriot dad

    By Jennie Matthew

    A WELSH woman has been reunited with her natural father, now living in Cyprus, 34 years after he learned he had a daughter.

    Susan Hill, nee Baldwick, had been searching for Michalis Lambrou for the last two years, when as a last resort she contacted the Cyprus Mail for help.

    The story was published on Wednesday last week. Then Mega TV picked up the story and broadcast an item about Susan. Her father read the article and watched the news -- the following Tuesday he plucked up the courage to ring his daughter.

    Shocked but delighted Susan said the conversation lasted a few minutes. "He introduced himself and asked how I was. And I asked how he was."

    Michalis said that he'd like to meet Susan and her family - her husband and three daughters, Melanie 16, Samantha 14 and Nicola aged three. "I said yes, when I can afford it, because it's quite expensive," said Susan.

    She's taken a part-time job at a local school to save up for a trip to Cyprus.

    She'll need to find the money for five air tickets, because she wants the whole family to be with her on such a momentous trip.

    Michalis told her he'd never forgotten that he had a daughter. "There were so many questions I wished I'd asked, but it wasn't a very long phone call, just a few minutes. I'm so excited, he sounds a very nice person," she said.

    Michalis met her mother Alice when he was training at the Long Grove Hospital in Epsom, Surrey, in the 1960s. The couple split up when Alice became pregnant. She returned to her parents in Wales where she gave birth to Susan on November 19, 1967.

    After the birth, Alice told Michael that he had a daughter. Alice married six years later and Susan was brought up with a half-brother and two half- sisters in Wales.

    Michalis married shortly after he broke up with Alice. The family returned to Cyprus in 1974 and he now lives in Nicosia with his wife and three grown- up children.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Cyprus to ease foreign deposit ban

    CYPRUS will ease foreign currency restrictions in coming weeks and allow its residents to hold liquid assets in other countries, a senior Central Bank official told the Reuters news agency yesterday.

    In a radical shake-up of existing rules which do not allow individual Cypriots to hold funds abroad - a rule many break - locals will be able to deposit up to 20,000 in foreign accounts, or the equivalent in stocks.

    "A circular outlining the changes will be issued to the commercial banks and the media in February," the official said.

    The step is part of a package of measures Cyprus is taking as it prepares for European Union membership, tentatively slated for 2004. Cyprus says it will abolish all restrictions on movement of capital before then.

    It has only recently started dismantling decades-old restrictions on currency flows, a throwback to measures imposed by former colonial power Britain in 1939 after the outbreak of World War II.

    Cyprus was a member of the Sterling Area, a Commonweath countries' club that imposed exchange controls on those who were not members. It left the area in 1972.

    The Central Bank has gradually been freeing up controls in a bid to protect the Cyprus pound, now pegged to the euro in a 15 per cent fluctuation band.

    The island's residents are allowed to make business investments abroad, buy homes and use credit cards while travelling, but bank deposits and equity investments overseas are not allowed.

    In spite of this, it is generally acknowledged that many Cypriots do have accounts abroad. A parliamentary commission has said millions of pounds clandestinely took flight from the island in 1999 when the Cyprus stock market rallied 688 per cent. (R)

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Gas safety warning in wake of blasts

    THE FIRE service yesterday warned people not to be careless in handling gas cylinders, after a spate of explosions in the last month.

    The fire service said it had recorded 12 gas-related incidents this month, compared to 50 for the whole of last year.

    Although nobody was killed, there have been serious injuries.

    Fire service spokesman Crysilios Chrysiliou said the incidents were all the results of human error and until now there had been no case of faulty cylinder.

    He said there were some basic issues that people ignored, and that knowing them could make their life safer.

    He said gas in the atmosphere occupied 250 times its volume when liquid, and that three per cent of gas in a confined space would be enough to cause an explosion.

    "Imagine a 10 kilo cylinder with a leak; it could cover the whole house," Crysiliou said.

    And it doesn't only take a flame to spark a blast.

    The spark could come from the fridge, from a light switch, or even from electrostatic.

    He warned that gas was heavier than the atmosphere so it settled down low and a leak could go unnoticed for some time.

    While a gas explosion is what people most fear, asphyxia is another danger that could result from a gas leak.

    Chrysiliou said the best thing was to keep cylinders outside or, if that is impossible, to close the valve during the night.

    Another safety measure would be to check the rubber ring around the gas cylinder's valve and make sure it is in good shape.

    The supplier is responsible for this but when a cylinder is kept unused outside a house for a long time, the elements can damage the ring.

    Chrysiliou added some further tips:

    Check the hose leading to the cooker or heater and ensure it is fit for gas.

    Use good quality clips to tighten the hose.

    Never turn on the gas on the cooker before lighting a match.

    Crysiliou added it would be better if gas heaters could be taken outside at night, or if that was then at least the cylinder.

    For those who have fitted gas-fuelled central heating in their homes, Crysiliou suggested it would be good to invest a couple of hundred pounds in fitting gas detection equipment that would cut off supply in case of a leak.

    For more information contact the nearest fire service department or the HQ in Nicosia at 22-802424.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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