Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2018, 13:56 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Cyprus

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 June 2003
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Cyprus , 1 June 2003, available at: [accessed 16 January 2018]
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 year's end, Cyprus hosted more than 1,800 refugees and asylum seekers. These included over 1,700 asylum seekers with pending applications and 90 persons granted asylum during the year, mostly Iranians (62).

About 950 persons applied for asylum in Cyprus in 2002, mostly arriving from Iran (400) and the West Bank and Gaza (170).

Some 265,000 persons remained internally displaced in the country, about 200,000 Greek Cypriots in the south of the island and about 65,000 Turkish Cypriots in the north.

Asylum Law and Procedure

In 2002, the government of Cyprus began processing asylum claims. Previously, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had processed all asylum claims in Cyprus. The UNHCR remains responsible for processing asylum claims lodged before January 1, 2002, as well as claims made in the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Five persons made asylum claims in the TRNC in 2002.

Asylum applications can be submitted at entry points and are handled by the Migration Department. After an interview with the applicant, a specially trained officer submits a report and assessment to the Refugee Authority (consisting of the permanent secretaries of the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Justice and Public Order, or their representatives). The officer can make a recommendation that the case is manifestly unfounded and should be dismissed. However, if the Refugee Authority disagrees with the officer's assessment that the case is manifestly unfounded, they will re-interview the applicant and make their own determination with reasons provided. If denied asylum, an applicant can appeal to the Reviewing Authority, consisting of three legal officers who serve at the Law Office of the Republic. No appeal may be made against a finding that a claims is manifestly unfounded, but Cyprus is preparing legislation to amend this, expected to be in enacted in 2003. The new law states that UNHCR's decisions will be considered as decisions of the Refugee Authority.

The authorities grant a three-year renewable temporary residence permit to recognized refugees. Rejected asylum seekers who cannot be deported to their country because of circumstances there or because there are humanitarian reasons to allow the person to remain, may be granted a six-month renewable residence permit.

The law also makes provision for temporary status to be granted in the case of mass influx of refugees, but further legislation is needed to fully implement this provision.

Detention and Deportation

Cyprus established a reception center for asylum seekers with a capacity to house 120 persons, although it had not yet started operations at the end of 2002.

There are approximately 95 persons who remain on the Sovereign British Areas (SBA), without opportunity to enter Cyprus or the United Kingdom. The British bases, created under the Treaty of Establishment in 1960, span some 98 square miles of land in Cyprus. Some of those who remain (mostly Iraqis) have had their asylum claims rejected, but cannot be returned to Iraq. Others have been granted asylum by British base authorities, but refused resettlement in the United Kingdom, and some have asylum cases pending. They are not allowed to settle permanently or work on the SBAs or in Cyprus. A group of these persons began a court case to enter the United Kingdom and to challenge some of the refugee status determinations in the British courts. The case was pending at the end of the year.

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