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Cyprus divided-island 14
Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

Nicosia north, two Turkish boys walking in front of a house destroyed by the conflict in 1973.

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Cyprus divided-island 2
Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

North Cyprus. Directions for Nicosia in the Turkish language.

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Cyprus divided-island 15
Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

North Nicosia. An old tower under UN control.

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Cyprus divided-island 17
Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

Mihalis, 48, runs a hotel near the buffer zone that needs urgent renovation. The price per room is 15 euro for the week end.

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Cyprus divided-island 4
Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

North Nicosia, a child on a bicycle.

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Cyprus divided-island 16
Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

Inside an old shop placed near the green line.

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Cyprus divided-island 7
Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

The economic crisis that began in 2012 led to the sale of land and buildings at a price very favorable to foreign financial companies and groups. Only in 2013, the most difficult year in the history of Cyprus, the Chinese have invested 300 million euro in real estate.

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Cyprus divided-island 8
Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

The authoritarian drift of Erdogan in Turkey worries and queries the Cypriot people about the progress achieved in terms of reunification and cooperation between the two republics in recent months.

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Cyprus divided-island 21
Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

A turkish souvenir seller, in the Kyrenia's port.

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Cyprus divided-island 13
Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

Kyrenia, North Cyprus, one of the many shops closed for years.

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Cyprus divided-island 10
Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

North side of Nicosia. A graffiti depicting Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first president of Turkey.

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Cyprus divided-island 20
Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

An elderly woman lights a candle in a church.
The Orthodox Christian community of Cyprus is one of the oldest in the world. They are the 80% of the island population.

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Cyprus divided-island 1
Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

Nicosia South. Barriers to prevent access to the green line. Each year, according to UNFICYP reports, within the demilitarized area take place around a thousand accidents, from simple provocations to real shots of gunfire.

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Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

Two Russian tourists walking through the streets of Paphos.

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Cyprus divided-island 12
Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

Nicosia. One of the illegal access points to the buffer zones.

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Cyprus divided-island 6
Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

The military cemetery Tymbos Makedonitissa of Nicosia. Inside there are the tombs of the Greek and Cypriot soldiers who were killed in the 1974 riots.

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Cyprus divided-island 25
Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

The lighting of one of the mountains of the Turkish Cyprus, representing the turkish Cypriot flag.

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Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

In Cyprus, the art of fishing still uses traditional methods; the collection of sponges is widely practiced throughout the island.

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Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

Muslim women to Kyrenia market, in the north of Cyprus.

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Cyprus
By Mike
20 Aug 2016

A house destroyed in the Turkish part of Nicosia.

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Cyprus
By Mike
20 Jul 2016

Kyrenia. Two tourists posing in front of the statue of the national hero, the turkish Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Lost Remains: Cypriots Continue Searc...
Nicosia
By James Haines-Young
13 Nov 2014

For many Cypriots, the unknown fate of their loved ones has become an obsession. For over 40 years, hundreds of families have been left waiting for their relatives who went missing during the years of ethnic violence and Turkey's invasion of the Mediterranean island in 1974.

Just over 2,000 Greek and Turkish Cypriots went missing during the inter-communal violence in 1964 and the Turkish invasion – and in a community as small as Cyprus, almost everyone has a first-hand story of someone who never returned.

About 160,000 Greek Cypriots fled south or were expelled after the invasion, losing their homes and properties, while some 50,000 Turkish Cypriots moved north a year later.
Several women, now in their late 80s, said they just want to find their loved ones so that they can die in peace. One even bought a grave plot for her husband 20 years ago. It still sits empty.

Angelilli Zacharia started fleeing south after the second phase of the Turkish invasion on August 14 1974. Along with a group of around 25 other refugees, Angelilli, her husband George and her three children were stopped by a militia of young, armed Turkish Cypriots on the outskirts of Nicosia.

“My husband spoke good Turkish because he had worked with Turkish people. I put my hand on him discreetly and said ‘George, what are they talking about?’ He said that they are taking us all to be executed. He said they would not kill our 15-year daughter because she is very beautiful; they will keep her alive to take her to Turkey. As soon as he said these words, I fell down to the ground,” said Angelilli.

All the refugees were taken to a village and detained; all the men were separated from the women and children so George Zacharia and his son were separated from the rest of the family.

“I am still waiting and I will still carry on waiting even though I am crippled, I will go on, I am waiting for them with big agony. I want the remains so I can take care of them before I die. I bought a grave plot 20 years ago and I’m waiting. That is the worst pain of all. He was missing for so many years but when the children and grandchildren were young I was occupied with them; now the pain is worse [as they are older] and I am less occupied. I am really ready for him to return.” says Angelilli.

Violence between Greek and Turkish communities in Cyprus flared up in 1964. In that year alone, 193 Turkish Cypriots and 133 Greek Cypriots were killed, with an additional 209 Turks and 41 Greeks missing, presumed dead.

In July 1974, a coup in Cyprus, supported by the ruling military junta in Greece, prompted Turkey to send some 40,000 troops and occupy the island. The invasion cost another 3,000 lives and injured thousands of others, while 1,619 people were reported missing.

A unique mission for the United Nations has brought together Greek and Turkish Cypriot representatives in the Committee for Missing Persons (CMP) to find, identify, and return remains to the families.

Relatives give CMP their remembrances of their missing people to pinpoint their last known locations at the time, helping the excavation teams to look where to dig in. Once remains are found, DNA samples are taken and matched with those of the relatives. After a positive result, the families are notified to go collect the remains from the laboratory.

Nicos Theodosioun, the head of an association of Greek families of missing person, says that despite the pain, after all this time the families simply want to find and rebury their loved ones.

Nico's brother also went missing during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. “In the case of a brother [being missing] you definitely grow up quickly because your parents and you are in mourning but without a body but at the same time you cannot mourn because you hope that he will come back alive – especially for the first few years,” he says.

Nicos points out that no one is looking for reparations or revenge: "They just want peace and the relief of putting this loss behind them."

Although the association is of Greek families, it also fights for the missing Turkish Cypriots: “The biggest number of Turkish missing people is from 10 years earlier, from the 1963-64 inter-communal problems. We as an organization say that if the Greek authorities have any information, they should give it as well.” says Nicos.

In 1963 Raif Raif’s father, a Turkish Cypriot, was working for the national telephone/telegraph company on the Greek side of the island. On December 22, 1963 he was told the situation was safe enough for him to go to work. Throughout the night he had been in contact with colleagues and friends in the north, however at some point during the night he disappeared.

Raif has heard stories of what happened to his father but still doesn’t know the truth, although he thinks, from details he has learned, that he was shot while riding his bicycle by members of the Greek resistance movement EOKA.

“Many people have been found, but still we haven’t [found my father],” says Raif.

Reports indicate that the bodies of 21 Turkish Cypriots were collected from a hospital in south Cyprus and taken to a cemetery in north Nicosia and buried without the families being told. Raif and others are asking the North Cypriot government to allow the CMP to dig in the cemetery and identify the bodies, however some believe that the remains of others are also there so the government is reluctant.

“If there are plenty of other people there too we have to find them. Let people find their families, friends and sons. So I think we will keep pressing them, the CMP are helping us and pressing the government as well so I hope we will find, I hope so [smiles].”

Others were fortunate to finally recover the remains of their missing family members. However, the experience remains engraved in their memories.

George Hadjipantelis, from the village of Yialousa, now in northern Cyprus, was trapped after the Turkish invasion in 1974 and remained enclaved for several months. On August 19, 1974, the Turkish Army took nine people, including George’s father Savvas Hadjipantelis away for questioning. They were told he would be returned in a few days but this didn’t happen.

“It’s not just the absence of a father but also the burden of having a missing father,” said Hadjipantelis, whose father’s body was recently identified and returned to the family.

In 2007, some Turkish Cypriots gave information of the location of a mass grave near the village of Galatia, in northern Cyprus. Excavations were done on the grave and the bodies of the nine missing people from Yialousa were found alongside two others from nearby villages.

“When it was announced to me that they had found him, it was very difficult psychologically. Because you always have hoped that maybe he is alive, you have that hope always,” continued Hadjipantelis.

His mother was convinced that her husband was still alive somewhere and asked not to be told if Savvas was found. Hadjipantelis believes that she was afraid to face the idea that he was dead: “However, now she is so much calmer and more relaxed. She goes to the cemetery where he is buried and lights a candle for him, she still has health problems but she doesn’t have the pain she carried for so many years,” he continues.

Slowly but surely, people like Hadjipantelis – who wondered for decades what had happened to their relatives – are having their questions answered.

The CMP team looks for remains in the heart of the buffer zone that still separates Turkish and Greek Cypriot forces. Archeologists also rely on information from locals to know where to dig, and depending on the site, the CMP can take months to excavate a single possible burial ground.

On one occasion, a farmer contacted CMP team and claimed he had been told several bodies had been dumped in a well on his land in 1974, however the dig yielded no sign of the remains.

Since 2007, the CMP has recovered around half of the 2,001 people who went missing. A team of doctors, archaeologists and forensic experts work to identify the remains. In a storage room, bone fragments and partial skeletons of Cypriot citizens await identification.

In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots unilaterally declared independence under the name of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The move was rejected by the UN and the Republic of Cyprus. And while the island is still divided, the families keep on searching and waiting for their missing ones.

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Cyprus Bank Affects Helios Airways Or...
Paralimni, Cyprus
By Vasia Markides
13 Aug 2013

This piece tells the story of the Koutsofta family who suffered the loss of their son, daughter in law and granddaughter in the 2005 Helios Airlines crash. With the recent economic crisis in Cyprus, a second tragedy has struck that particularly affects the life of their grandson, the only surviving member of their son's family.

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Losing Karpas
Karpas, Cyprus
By Vasia Markides
27 Jul 2013

A piece about the Biologists Association and their work preserving the Karpas peninsula in the north of Cyprus.

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Alp & Anna
Nicosia, Cyprus
By Vasia Markides
26 Jul 2013

'Alp and Anna' This short film features two inspiring 18-year-olds - Alparslan Balci, a Turkish Cypriot and Anna Leonidou, a Greek Cypriot. Living on the divided island of Cyprus, these two young people are active members of Youth Activism - a UNDP-ACT project that aims to encourage and inspire the youth of Cyprus to actively participate in the efforts for a peaceful solution of the Cyprus problem. Alp and Anna are friends, who have worked on joint activities implemented by the project in order to engage young people in peace building, to empower and support them to play an active role in the reconciliation process and to build support structures for them to continue in youth activism. Here, they talk about their work together, and their view on the situation in Cyprus.

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"Hidden in the Sand" Trailer
Famagusta, Cyprus and Nicosia, Cyprus
By Vasia Markides
26 Jul 2013

In 1974, a coup backed by the Greek military junta instigated Turkey to invade the nation of Cyprus. They captured almost 40% of the island and displaced its residents, both Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot. Varosha, which was a thriving port city in Famagusta on the east coast of Cyprus, was occupied and all its Greek-Cypriot residents forced to leave their homes. Since then, Varosha has been encircled by barbed wire and kept under surveillance by the Turkish military, which uses the territory as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the Cyprus government. Its citizens are still forbidden to return. Over the last 38 years, Varosha went from being “Cyprus’s Riviera”, to a dilapidated ghost city; its former inhabitants watch their houses decay from outside the barricades. Within Varosha’s limits rare sea turtles nest on the beaches, bougainvilleas overtake deteriorating homes, and wild asparagus and prickly pear plants run rampant. As both the maker and a participant, the filmmaker examines the fate of this “city in captivity” and her family’s connection to it. Contemporary scenes of the vacant city are contrasted with archives of the bourgeoning Varosha of the 1970’s. Ultimately though, the film tackles the ugly effects of nationalism, militarism, and propaganda in the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities.

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Cyprus Bank Affects Helios Airways Or...
Paralimni, Cyprus
By Vasia Markides
01 Jul 2013

This piece tells the story of the Koutsofta family who suffered the loss of their son, daughter in law and granddaughter in the 2005 Helios Airlines crash. With the recent economic crisis in Cyprus, a second tragedy has struck that particularly affects the life of their grandson, the only surviving member of their son's family.