LARNACA, Cyprus – A German mother and daughter who were deported from Israel after their visas expired have been living in Cyprus’s Larnaca Airport for more than a year.
In a case reminiscent of the film The Terminal, the two women have making use of the terminal’s shopping, restaurant, WiFi and bathroom facilities ever since they arrived in August 2014.
The two women, who have not been named, have been overnighting in sleeping bags on the concrete floor of the car park, refusing to change their circumstances even in the coldest winter months or the blazing Mediterranean summer heat.
They appear unwilling to return to Germany despite offers of assistance from their home country’s embassy and local officials.
Airport authorities have little information about their background, but say after hosting the mother and daughter for over a year, it is now time for some other authorities – government or embassy – to help them move on.
“We did our best to take a humanitarian approach and help them – in the rain, in the heat – but this is not our role,” Cyprus Airports spokesman Adamos Aspris said.
“Our role is to help the public travel to and from our premises, not stay on our premises. We are an airport, not a hotel.”
“I think it is now time for someone to help these to ladies decide where they want to travel from Larnaca airport.”
The two have become known to airport staff, not unlike the character played by Tom Hanks in the film The Terminal, who begins living at JFK Airport after being stuck in travel limbo due to being denied entry to the US, while a coup unfolds in his fictional home country of Krakozhia.
The film was based on the real life story of Karimi Nasseri, an Iranian refugee who lived in the departure lounge of Terminal One in Charles de Gaulle Airport for 18 years, before being hospitalized and eventually transferred to a Paris homeless shelter.
The German mother is believed to have relatives in Israel and wants to return but is waiting for their status to be cleared.
In the meantime, the two have refused any formal aid or assistance from the airport, but have also refused to leave.
German embassy officials in Nicosia said they had searched their files, but had no open case on the mother.
“Officially, she has never approached the embassy for assistance,” an embassy spokesman told the Telegraph, noting that any potential embassy assistance, however, would likely involve traveling back to Germany, not Israel.
The Catholic aid organization Caritas, which operates across the island, also said they were not familiar with the case – despite having an aid office at Larnaca Airport.
“Had this been known of course we could have offered them help from health and welfare or help them get a place at the Nicosia women’s shelter,” said a member of Caritas staff. “When we have EU citizens in this situation in Cyprus it is almost always a mental health issue.”