Nine humanitarian organizations have signed a joint statement in which they say that asylum seekers on the island of Cyprus are facing deteriorating conditions in terms of migrant reception. The organizations - Agapi, Caritas, Cyprus Red Cross Society, Cyprus Refugee Council, Hope for Children, KISA, MiHub, Municipality of Nicosia, and the UNHCR - said migrants on Cyprus face an increased risk of homelessness.
System 'inadequate' to meet needs
"The number of people seeking asylum in Cyprus has continued to show marked increases over the years, mostly due to the ongoing conflict in Syria: 1,887 in 2014; 2,108 in 2015; 2,871 in 2016 and 4,499 in 2017," the statement said. "We believe, however, that the national reception system has proven to be inadequate to meet the needs of the increasing numbers of asylum-seekers and is in urgent need of a comprehensive reform," it said.
Following a recent policy change by the Cypriot Asylum Service, the Kofinou Reception Centre is no longer accepting single male asylum-seekers, it said. "With the Kofinou Centre presently hosting only 265 persons and another 130 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children housed in special shelters, the vast majority of asylum-seekers therefore live outside collective centres," it said.
The statement further said that the lack of housing and financial assistance "leaves beneficiaries below the poverty line", which "exacerbates the risk of destitution for asylum seekers".
Request for government intervention
Given the issues they highlight in the statement, the organizations are calling on the Cypriot government to "take immediate action to remedy the situation". The statement urges the government "to ensure emergency accommodation to all asylum-seekers in need, to increase the level of subsistence assistance for asylum-seekers, to reduce the period of prohibition of access to the labour market, to put in place procedures to identify vulnerable asylum-seekers, and to institute measures to assist unaccompanied children".