Asylum: The Terminus Of Cyprus


In order to cope with the influx of refugees, Cyprus needs urgently the support of the EU. In poorly converted containers, asylum-seekers wait at the end of part for many years on the processing of their applications.

In Turkey, the Amir and Layla* have made a decision that would change her life: she decided to apply for political asylum. The two fled from Iran, after the Iranian government for the Amir worked, had voiced doubts about his Religion. So Amir and Layla left the country and traveled, to the extent that you came up with your Iranian passport. As you were not so more, she led their way through Turkey to Cyprus. There they applied for asylum.

The Couple could legally enter into the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. It is located in the North of the island in the Mediterranean sea and is only recognized by Turkey as a state. Most of the refugees arrive at the Ercan airport in the Turkish Northern part of the island and then continue to the Greek-Cypriot South. Since the beginning of the refugee crisis, the number of asylum is there, seeking greatly increased. In the year 2016 2871 people. 2018 there were 7713.

From January to June of this year, already 6554 people have applied for asylum. In the next few months it will be even more. At the same time of 14,000 asylum applications stack already in the authorities of the country. The government of Cyprus has already asked for the support of the EU in the resettlement of at least 5000 migrants.

In a Letter to the government of Cyprus Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU secured-Commissioner for Migration, country support. He explained that the EU had already made significant steps to help Cyprus, both financially and organizationally. The resettlement of people in other EU-was planned countries. In addition, the European Union have reminded Turkey that she must prevent the emergence of new escape routes.

Amir and Layla complain about the conditions in the refugee camp in Kofinou

“One of the biggest challenges in Cyprus, the backlog of asylum applications. The number of applications has increased in the last two years dramatically and the System was not prepared for it. It is not designed for a high number of asylum-seekers,” says Katja Saha, a representative of the refugee work of the United Nations (UNHCR).

“A first decision on applications should be taken within a period of six months. In Cyprus, the process can take several years. Until a final decision is made, it takes currently three to five years. There are special cases in which people wear for the past ten years, the Status of asylum seekers,” she says.

Difficult Conditions

After the Amir and Layla had to go through the first steps of the procedure, they were brought to the refugee camp in Kofinou. The isolated camp near the port city of Larnaca, is the only refugee camp on the island, with the exception of the Notlagers in Nicosia, designed for newcomers.

The residents of Kofinou to wait for the processing of their asylum applications. 400 people have there space. Currently, only 250 people live in the converted containers.

In spite of the low capacity utilisation, Amir describes the conditions as terrible. “There are cockroaches and beetles. The kitchen is always dirty and we try not to go to the toilets,” he says. The worst, however, is the endless boredom of waiting.

“If you know that you have to wait a year until your asylum interview, you can plan to at least advance. But if they tell you that your Interview takes place in ten days, count the hours. And then you say [the Cypriot authorities note. d. Red.] the appointment three days beforehand. You can’t imagine how stressful this is,” he says.

The long road of Integration

Conditions improve, but not abruptly, when someone is actually recognised as a refugee.

Mohammed is an advocate for language courses for adult refugees

Mohammed decided on short notice to apply for asylum in Cyprus. He was for a UN conference in the country and decided that this was the perfect time to flee from Somalia. Mohammed worked as an investigative Journalist and wrote Shabab, the Islamist terror militia Al -.

Mohammed went through the same process as that of Amir and Layla. When he received international protection, was allowed to meet his wife. But his life has not improved – because Cyprus has no sustainable integration system.

“When I arrived for the first Time in Cyprus, I had a lot of problems. In Somalia, I had a well-paid Job. I had some friends. Here I had nothing. My life was incomplete. It is not easy in the society to arrive. It takes time, the culture and the people,” he says.

According to Mohammed, the number of asylum-seekers is becoming a bigger and bigger Problem, because Cyprus is not really fit for the reception of so many refugees. He tried to help asylum seekers and refugees in their Integration. One way is to encourage them to learn the language of the country. Therefore, Mohammed has launched an Online Petition to Greek language classes fight for refugees.

A contribution to society

“If refugees receive a proper education, you can contribute more to the Cypriot society. And if some go abroad and lead a successful life, can tell the people that these refugees are a product of Cyprus.” Refugees and asylum seekers make every effort to be part of the society and to make a contribution to society. Job prospects you have but only in agriculture and in the services sector.

According to Katja Saha from the UNHCR access to the labour market is the key to a successful Integration. “The asylum seekers and refugees that come to us, don’t want to be dependent on social benefits. You want to be treated with Dignity and respect.”

*Some names have been changed to protect the identity of the persons. Some quotes have been edited for better readability.