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UN Day
October 15, 2000

On October 15, 2000, the United Nations Force in Cyprus held several events at the Ledra Palace Hotel to celebrate the 55th "birthday" of the United Nations. The event was attended by thousands of Cypriots from both sides of the island, forming yet another opportunity for old friends to see each other and new friendships to be formed.

In these pages you can find a brief report about the event by Peace-Cyprus reporter Sevgul Uludag and several pictures taken by Adonis Florides.

UN Day bringing Cypriots together
by Sevgul Uludag

While the UN celebrated its 55th "birthday", Cypriots had more reasons to celebrate the UN Open House: coming together. The UN Open House was held at Ledra Palace Hotel on the Green Line in Nicosia, where 2 thousand 600 Turkish Cypriots and 2 thousand 200 Greek Cypriots met once again. Speaking to, Sarah Russell, the UN Spokesperson said "It was great to see so many people from both communities there. We hope that the two communities have more opportunities to meet in the future."

Russell, who served in Afghanistan before coming to Cyprus, said "The UN Day is very special for UNFICYP, it gives us an opportunity to entertain the people we are here to work with and for..."

Because of logistical reasons, the UN Day was celebrated a bit earlier than usual this year and instead of the 24th of October, it was held on the 15th. It was the 12th time that the UN was having an "Open House" for Cypriots to enjoy.

The focus of these events has always been activities for children. On Sunday, Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot children played together, jumping around in the bouncy castle, bucking bronco, playing raffle, trying to shoot goals at the Argentinian goalkeeper, having their faces painted in elaborate patterns and watching UNICEF films about children together. Once, one of the Turkish Cypriot kids, who had never seen a Greek Cypriot kid in his life said to his mother, after attending his very first UN Day, "But mom, they are just like us. I always thought the Greek Cypriot kids would be different, like aliens we see in movies..."

Contingents from Hungary, Slovenia, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Netherlands, UK, Finland and Austria each displayed videos and distributed materials about their countries. UNICEF, UNHCR and UNFICYP also had stands. On different stages, different kinds of live music was played, a British band playing rock, while in the main area of the Ledra Palace Hotel, the bi-communal chorus sang songs, creating nostalgia among the elderly.

Youngsters were also around, having meetings, playing and talking. Elderly searched for old neighbors and friends, speaking of memories, never forgotten.

People had a chance to watch Hungarian martial arts or listen to Irish harp music from Dr. Irene Cotter, while children and youngsters were entertained by Andy Stewart, a professional entertainer.

But the reason why there is so much interest in the UN Open House from Cypriots is that it gives them a chance to meet, for children to mix, for youngsters to plan, for elderly to look for faces from their past. In essence, the UN Day in Cyprus is always an occasion to celebrate the atmosphere of reconciliation.

Pictures from the event by Adonis Florides

Copyright 2000 Adonis Florides. All rights reserved.

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