While the problems of international students in the TRNC and the difficulties they face are still many, and most of the time they are not heeded when speaking about them, there is a fact that it cannot be denied that these international students are quite important part to the Turkish Cypriot society; even for the economy.
This has always led to government decisions regarding repeated attempts to increase the number of these students on the island over the years. Like the past two years, the government has sought to keep students in Cyprus and make those who traveled due to the epidemic conditions come back. Also, restaurant and real estate owners and merchants protested few months ago, demanding the return of students to avoid financial and economic damage, which affected them as individuals directly financially.
On the other side, the current government seems to be showing a very clear lack of interest in the health of these students. Many questions revolve in our minds about what the government is planning to do to secure our health during the pandemic in general. What are its plans to vaccinate some of these students? How do you deal with students who have chronic diseases and those classified in high risk groups? These questions were asked several times, without any obtained answer or even the slightest amount of information or details on the subject.
As an international student with an autoimmune disease, I left the TRNC heading to my country because I was not sure of the quality of the health care I would receive if I caught the COVID-19 virus, after I encountered some medical negligence during the three years I spent there. This is a problem affecting many foreigners.
I started planning to return this period, so I tried to contact the Ministry of Health with the aim of asking about the possibility of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in the near future, as well as requesting to spend the quarantine period at home, because of my health, as I'm under immunosuppressive treatment.
The person who answered the phone answered me with some conflicting sentences, which showed his uncertainty about what he was saying, that I can summarize: There is no clear plan currently for the vaccination of international students considered as high risk, in North Cyprus. As for the home quarantine, he asked me to send a request via e-mail to the ministry of health. I sent the email with a picture of my passport, a medical report, my student details, as well as my address. I received a notification via my e-mail 4 days later stating that my email was not delivered to the sender due to their inbox fullness and therefore I could not reach them via e-mail. Then I tried to approach them again through their Facebook page, but I did not receive a reply yet. This was before the launch of the Home Quarantine System, and even now, many students are complaining of delayed or no response at all. It's not easy to reach any responsible department to make status inquiries. Government announcements are often one-dimensional.
All this makes me think seriously about the effectiveness of the TRNC Government's decision-making, on how they have managed the COVID-19 crisis, and the ignoring of the importance of the vaccination of all the people in the country. There is a truth that this government cannot escape from and this is that everyone is at risk of infection, even the local population, if the vaccination of this large and essential segment of society in TRNC is neglected. On the other hand, if this neglect and indifference on the part of the government prolongs, the hospitals capacity is liable to collapse at any moment, especially since a number of these students suffer from chronic diseases and may face more severe complications in the event of infection with the virus, which might lead to the occupancy of intensive care units.
As I mentioned before, the number of foreign students in TRNC is quite large, which makes this group inevitably important in terms of also preserving the resilience of the health sector and the economy. I really hope that the government thinks in a realistic and logical perspective, so that its decisions and priorities are based on calculated and logical reasons to be able to confront this pandemic. On the other hand, I hope that the local population would also reflect on the consequences that could follow, if some of these International Students are not vaccinated, and for them to support the students in their request to please be considered for the vaccines.
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