With less than 10% of asylum-seekers accommodated at the reception centre, decent housing is a major problem thousands of asylum seekers face, a UNHCR report said.
The inadequacies of the reception conditions for asylum-seekers in the Republic of Cyprus have long been cause for serious concern to the UN Refugee Agency.
To acquire an in-depth knowledge of the problems as a basis for charting a way forward, UNHCR commissioned the University of Nicosia to carry out a comprehensive study on the reception conditions of asylum-seekers in the country focusing on five key areas: employment, housing, education, social assistance and community relations.
Another major difficulty identified was the long waiting period before asylum‐seekers would be allowed to work
The study involved desk research, one-on-one and group interviews with nearly 600 asylum seekers across the country and further interviews with government officials, NGO representatives and other key stakeholders.
"The overall picture emerging from this study is not encouraging. With less than 10 percent of asylum-seekers in the country accommodated at the Kofinou Reception Centre, decent housing is the single greatest problem thousands of asylum-seekers are confronted with," the UNHCR said.
It said an additional major difficulty identified in the Study was the long waiting period before asylum‐seekers would be allowed to work, as well as the employment sectors they are restricted to thereafter.
"These already vulnerable individuals and families who are unable to work or cannot find work are severely materially deprived because of the level of social assistance they receive that is significantly below the national risk-of-poverty threshold."
Damtew Dessalegne, the UNHCR Representative in Cyprus, said the report was a “primarily a call to action for better standards of treatment of refugee applicants in a manner that asserts the value of asylum. I hope that policy-makers, as well as refugee advocates, will find in this study food for thought.”
According to the UNHCR, the report has been shared with Cypriot authorities and will be presented and discussed at an open public event on 24 May in Nicosia.