British expats on Cyprus still waiting for their own cemetery

Published:  19 Jul at 6 PM
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For years and in spite of an agreement, British expats living in Cyprus have been waiting for a dedicated cemetery and crematorium.

Following endless debates involving the Cypriot government and Cyprus’s branch of the Greek Orthodox religion, an agreement was finally made, but no implementation has yet taken place. The reason behind the mysterious delay is anyone’s guess, but is believed to be connected with certain local influences, a loss of revenue to existing facilities and a clash with local cultural beliefs. Even more strangely, a report from the Cypriot police has stated that a separate crematorium would be welcomes by criminal elements as it would give an opportunity to destroy evidence.

Companies who would lose money should a crematorium and cemetery be provided include those involved in sending the bodies of deceased expats back to the UK. In particular, airlines would lose a considerable amount of revenue as repatriating a corpse is an expensive business for relatives of the deceased.

Existing cemeteries on the island are fast running out of space, with what’s left mostly reserved for Cypriot citizens, and costs for Brits able to be buried in a local cemetery are inevitably charged more for the service than are locals. Expat groups on the island consider the situation as blatant discrimination as all registered UK citizens are charged a cemetery tax, along with local people. The charge is intended to cover the cost of a grave but, in many municipalities, the entitlement is disallowed.

Concerned expats are now suggesting the facilities could be situated on Cyprus’s Sovereign Base Areas as they are considered a part of the UK and British laws apply. Expat communities are supportive of the idea, which needs the approval of both the bases themselves and the Cypriot government.

However, Base security including stringent checks of all attending the cremation or burial might cause unwelcome problems at a time of mourning. Even so, given the long wait for approval of the plan, it’s still a way forward to a facility which would make a death in the family far easier to deal with.
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