Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2017, 12:01 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1998 - Cyprus

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 January 1998
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1998 - Cyprus, 1 January 1998, available at: [accessed 24 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

At the end of 1997, there were 47 refugees and asylum seekers in need of protection in Cyprus. These included 15 persons with pending asylum applications, 10 persons granted refugee status during the year, and 22 persons with temporary protection. Some 265,000 persons remained internally displaced in Cyprus at the end of 1997.

A draft refugee law, completed in 1996, was still not enacted at year's end. During the year, Cyprus continued to refer all requests for asylum to UNHCR. The government grants temporary residence permits to individuals awaiting UNHCR status determination or third-country resettlement. Since 1993, the government has granted work permits to persons recognized under UNHCR's mandate.

UNHCR reported that applicants in 80 potential asylum cases (representing 100 persons) approached the agency and that it interviewed applicants in 52 cases (representing 64 persons) during the year. Persons from Iran and Iraq represented 73 percent of those approaching UNHCR. In 1997, UNHCR recognized 10 persons (nine cases) under its mandate and rejected 54 (43 cases). Cyprus provided 22 persons with temporary protection, including nine from the former Yugoslavia.

Internal Displacement Until withdrawing from this role at year's end, UNHCR continued to coordinate humanitarian assistance in 1997 for approximately 200,000 Greek Cypriots displaced in the south of the island and about 65,000 Turkish Cypriots displaced in the north.

The displacement in Cyprus is the longest standing in the region. The first forced displacements occurred between 1963 and 1970, when Greek Cypriot military and paramilitary forces attacked and terrorized Turkish Cypriots, displacing 20,000.

Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, after a coup backed by Greece's military junta removed the legal president. The invasion caused some 180,000 to 200,000 Greek Cypriots to flee south spontaneously. Concurrently, about 50,000 to 60,000 Turkish Cypriots fled north, including many who had been displaced before.

Turkish Cypriot authorities and the Greek Cypriot government agreed in April to allow reciprocal visits to religious sites on the island. As a result, some 400 Turkish Cypriots made a pilgrimage to a Muslim shrine in the south, the first visit since 1974. In November, following a stalled attempt in August, a group of some 1,200 Greek Cypriots was allowed to visit a monastery in the Turkish-occupied north.

UNHCR ended its bi-communal activities in Cyprus on December 31. According to UNHCR's office in Cyprus, UNHCR withdrew because "the projects have evolved into a developmental phase which we are not qualified to do." The UN Development Program was scheduled to take over these activities in 1998.

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