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Cypriot solidarity concert as financial crisis bites

02 april 2013, 14:04
0
Tens of thousands of people on Monday attended a charity concert in the Cypriot capital Nicosia to raise funds and collect food for people suffering the fallout of a severe financial crisis, AFP reports.

Organised by relief organisations and touted as a "concert of solidarity and help," Cyprus Aid brought together about 50 artists from Cyprus and Greece who performed from mid-afternoon until late at night.

Concert-goers were asked to bring dry food for families struggling to make ends meet amid the crippling crisis that forced the Cypriot government to accept tough bailout terms from international lenders.

"I brought spaghetti, rice, cookies. This event is important to show solidarity. It is important to help the people who are in need," said Alexis Vrachimis, a young doctor.

Vrachimis added his contribution to a pile of cardboard boxes filled with a variety of tinned and dried food before joining the throng of people that flooded a moat where the stage and giant screens were erected for the concert.

The concert was held in the open air around the 16th century Venetian walls that surround the Old City of Nicosia and all along the ancient stones people had left boxes of food.

A policeman said "tens of thousands of people" attended the concert, among them many youths, families with children and elderly couples.

"We came to help those who have problems. Now we can help but we don't know if we will be able to help tomorrow," said dentist Christina Hadjipanaskiva.

Melina Shukuroglou, a member of the charity Alkionides, which helped to organise the concert, blamed Cypriot politicians and bankers for the crisis gripping the east Mediterranean island.

"As the crisis will spread in the country we will have more people in need," she said.

Cyprus was on the verge of bankruptcy, but last week, after marathon talks with the "troika" of the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, the island received a 10-billion-euro bailout.

The deal stipulates a drastic restructuring of the banking system which is certain to affect the Cypriot economy and have dire social repercussions.

Leonidas, a policeman, said many people were already cash-strapped and unable to buy basic necessities.

"It is nothing to give five euros to buy stuff, but it is very important for them," he said.

His wife Georgia said the Greek Cypriot people had learned to help each other since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded the northern third of the island.

"The solidarity continues," she said.

Nelly Kiriakou, a teacher from Bulgaria married to a Cypriot, said she hoped the charity concert would be followed by other such initiatives.

"Cyprus was for two weeks in a very critical situation and with this concert we remember that we are together no matter the difficulties," added Marios Constantinou.

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