EU funds worth 3.1 bln euros will be allocated to member states during the period 2014-2020, aiming for the relief of refugees and asylum seekers, while Cyprus is expected to receive around 32 mln for the same purpose.
According to a public discussion on “Refugee Integration in Cyprus: Managing Diversity”, held at the EU House, in Nicosia, organised by the UNHCR office in Cyprus, the European Parliament Office and the Representation of the European Commission, Cyprus was commended by speakers for efforts to improve conditions at the Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers, in Kofinou.
European officials monitoring Cyprus’ reforms in the area of asylum and immigration noted that the centre’s capacity has been extended from 60-70 people to 400, while significant challenges remain.
Constantinos Nicolaides, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Interior, said that the Republic of Cyprus remains committed towards the EU, concerning its responsibilities towards refugees and people who require protection.
He referred to the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), noting that there should be a better allocation of responsibilities and funds among member states.
The integration of foreigners in society is the cornerstone of a successful Common European Asylum System, said Matthias Oel, Head of the European Commission’s Asylum Unit.
The effort will be only halfway complete, if the CEAS is not implemented by all member states, he added.
Oel said that a series of challenges remain for Cyprus, concerning the reception conditions of individuals requesting international protection, while noting shortcomings with regards to the protection of vulnerable groups and unaccompanied minors.
The Head of the European Commission Representation in Cyprus Giorgos Markopouliotis said that every four seconds, someone in the world is forced to leave his home due to conflicts or natural disasters, with refugees counting worldwide 17 mln.
Acting Head of the European Parliament Office in Cyprus Alexandra Attalides said from her part that member states need to improve measures targeting asylum seekers, while noting that EU funds that have been made available for this purpose exceed 3 bln. She said moreover that Cyprus’ policy-making and policy targeting should be governed by EU principles.
Cyprus, having gone through the horrors of war, is obliged to embrace refugees and help them integrate in the society, the Acting Head of the EP office in Cyprus has said.
Damtew Dessalegne, the UNHCR Representative in Cyprus said in his address that the responsibility for integration in the society falls mainly on refugees themselves, according to the results of best practices elsewhere. He noted however that a society needs to be supportive towards refugees, in order for them to be able to fulfill this responsibility.
Published on 12 September, 2014