Cyprus has become the 188th member of the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) this week after being admitted officially as a National Society.
“It was a long process which was upsetting for us,” explains Deputy Vice President of the Cyprus Red Cross Leda Koursoumba, “but then finally in February 2012 we were officially recognised, and then on Tuesday we were finally admitted, which is very exciting for us”.
In 2004, Ms Koursoumba, along with other members of the Cyprus Red Cross, decided to relaunch their campaign after the country was accepted into the European Union. Following this, she said the country and the Red Cross were able to begin negotiations again.
The political problems on the island may have thwarted their application – due to the 1974 foreign occupation – yet Ms Koursoumba says that the Cyprus Red Cross is inclusive of all citizens on the island.
“We cater for all Cypriots – to everybody on the island,” she says, pointing out that her fellow vice president is Turkish Cypriot.
The Cyprus Red Cross also assists in international appeals such as the Greek earthquakes and the tsunami in Sri Lanka.
In Australia for the 2013 Statutory Meetings of the international Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, Ms Koursoumba estimates that there are more than the 10,000 volunteers that are registered as part of the Cyprus Red Cross. She says that when there is an appeal, many Cypriots gather to assist the Red Cross, from the young to the old.
Cyprus Red Cross president Fotini Papadopoulos told the media that it was “the generous support of our volunteers [that] has enabled [Cyprus Red Cross] to carry out a diverse range of humanitarian actions over the years”.
Ms Koursoumba says that although the members of the Cyprus Red Cross were “shocked” by the inclusion by the IFRC, she adds that “it was well deserved by our National Society”.
* For full interview, read this Saturday 23 November’s English edition of Neos Kosmos.