The United States is pleased to continue to support Cypriot efforts to build the bridges and the trust that will ensure a prosperous future in a reunified Cyprus. Between 1974 and 1997, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provided humanitarian assistance and built housing estates, schools, hospitals, and research institutes on both sides of the divide. Starting in 1981, the Cyprus Fulbright Commission (CFC) began providing opportunities for Cypriot students to study in the United States under the Cyprus America Scholarship Program (CASP). Since that time thousands of students have benefited.
Beginning in 1997, the focus of the programs shifted to emphasize interaction between the communities, which had been separated for decades. From 1997 through 2005, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), implemented a wide range of projects under the Bicommunal Development Program (BDP) including in the areas of environment, public health, urban revitalization, cultural heritage and civil society strengthening. Concrete examples include the upgrade of Nicosia’s sewerage system, the revitalization of the Chrysalliniotissa and Arab Ahmet neighborhoods in Nicosia, the restoration of the Venetian Walls in Nicosia, Hala Sultan Tekke in Larnaca and the Pentakomo square near Limassol. Grants were also provided to civil society organizations to work on special interests ranging from biodiversity, consumer’s and patient’s rights and children’s issues, as well as to organize youth camps, concerts and competitions to demonstrate the value of multiculturalism.
Beginning in 2000, the Embassy established the Bicommunal Support Program (BSP) to provide theme-based and target group-based bicommunal programs, focusing on professional development, education and leadership. Since 2005, UNDP’s Action for Cooperation and Trust (ACT) program has worked with Cypriot organizations to design and implement projects which will help build the foundations for lasting relationships island-wide. The focus is on multicultural education and youth empowerment, promoting civil engagement, support to environmental protection and the preservation and promotion of Cyprus’s rich cultural heritage. In 2004, the Cyprus Partnership for Economic Growth (CyPEG) was designed to promote business interaction and trade across the Green Line and to assist in successful reunification by mitigating the disparities between the two communities.
Tens of thousands of Cypriots have made contacts, connections and friends with members of the “other” community as a result of U.S.-funded programs.