By Roger Bara….
This is the story of a pal of mine, who is desperately trying to return to his home of eight years, in the TRNC. But for every story like this, there are at least 100 or more ready to be told, that will equate to the heartbreak, frustration, and now, not a little anger thrown in, that is affecting everyone in this situation.
For those that know him, it seems Barry Miller has always been around these parts. He’s become a regular feature throughout the Iskele area, which includes his voluntary work at the Iskele animal shelter, and his amazing support of the local football team, which has seen him form an expat supporters club who regularly travel to both home and away matches. He has always thrown himself into every aspect of North Cypriot life. He most certainly doesn’t consider he is anything special, but those around him know how much this country and all that happens within it, is uppermost in his heart and mind.
So you can imagine how he felt, after having to go to the UK for urgent reasons back in February, turning up at Stansted airport for his return trip, only to be told, erroneously as it happens, by Pegasus airline staff, that only TRNC citizens would be allowed on this flight. Pegasus got it wrong, this was before the lockdown, and Barry, like 100s of his counterparts, should have been allowed on the flights that day. Very shortly afterwards, the lockdown began.
Never one to bear a grudge, he decided to grin and bear it, and began the long road of waiting to get back as soon as it was possible.
As the weeks turned into months, Barry, along with over a 100 people in a similar position, all with residency, tried every way to get back home. It even came to each of them putting up over £800 for a possible repatriation flight in conjunction with Cyprus Paradise, involving a 14-day isolation period in a Kyrenia hotel, all to no avail. It is not even known whether the government here even discussed the matter. Because, you see, the people involved were not citizens. They only had residency, and that doesn’t appear to count for anything.
Then came the bombshell. In a recent decision by the government, those stuck abroad and waiting to come back to the TRNC would be divided into three groups – the first group to be allowed back would be TRNC citizens who live full-time in the island; the second group, at a later date, would be those citizens who visit the TRNC, i.e. tourists, and the third, and therefore the obviously inferior members of the TRNC community, those that live there permanently, but not citizens, would be allowed back.
I leave it for you all to work out whether Barry and his band of 100 or more residents in the same situation, are more likely to spread the coronavirus than TRNC citizens. “I’m so upset and seething at this decision”, he told me. “We residents are way down the list to be allowed to return. There are so many people in my position, and we feel we have been shafted and discriminated against by the government.”
Barry then messaged President Akinci, Prime Minister Tatar, Deputy Prime Minister Ozersay, Health Minister Pilli and Transport Minister Atakan. Always polite, he started out by applauding the work that had been done in containing the spread of Covid-19. Then to his major point :
“I have, so far, had four returning flights cancelled. Today I was distraught to learn that, once again, only Turkish Citizens are able to return home to the TRNC from 1st June. This is so unfair to those of us that live in TRNC and have residency. I, together with many others, are desperate and more than willing to accept controlled quarantine, as per Turkish Citizens, as a condition to returning home.
I love living in the TRNC and stress that this is my permanent home. I am currently staying with relatives and have no home in the U.K.
Sir, your government has done a wonderful job in dealing, controlling & beating COVID-19 but now is the time for you to allow us to return back home with your own citizens. Please can you discuss our plight with your colleagues & reconsider.”
There has been no response. The saddest thing personally is Barry’s parting message to me. “As things stand, I’m seriously looking at moving on and actively looking at the possibilities of living elsewhere. I’ve had enough. My emotions are all over the place.”