Today’s International Day against Racism finds humanity confronted with the destruction of as yet another country and the forced displacement of a large section of its population. The invasion and the war in Ukraine remind us in a most tragic way how fragile is peace in all parts of the world and how easy it is for refugeehood to knock on our door as long we delude ourselves that peace can be achieved with guns, as long as we put up with or applaud the lack of respect to international law, nationalism and violations of human rights.
The solidarity of the peoples of Europe with the refugees of Ukraine demonstrates most emphatically that dealing with a refugee crisis is primarily a matter of political will, respect of the refugee law and of the dignity of refugees. The correct and prompt response of the EU, its institutions and member states with the implementation of Directive 2001/55/ΕC for provision of temporary protection unfortunately reminds us the unfair treatment of refugees from Syria and other countries in war, with similar or worse conditions. These refugees had to go through myriads of pain and suffering, which in many cases cost lives, before they could reach European countries and seek protection.
In Cyprus, the government policies force the vast majority of refugees to live for a very long time in conditions that are an affront to human dignity and, when granted protection, they are faced with social exclusion and discrimination, trapped in the country without traveling documents and with no right to have their families with them.
It is unfortunate that the Cyprus government has opted for a dangerous and disastrous for society way of dealing with asylum, a policy that has been stamped with barbed wires across the Green Line, illegal pushbacks of refugees, detention camps like “Pournara” and the persecution of defenders of refugees.
The government’s policies and rhetoric have led to harbouring racism, laying the ground for the extreme and neonazi right, undermining the rule of law and collision of the country with international and European monitoring institutions and promoting human rights and the rule of law.
On the occasion of this day KISA calls on the government to proceed to:
- The revision of its asylum policy and, taking on its responsibilities, to proceed to effective measures for a fair asylum system, which will be based on a dignified and with no discrimnation treatment of all refugees.
- Take effective measures against the distortions of migration that lead, on the one hand, to violations of migrants’ rights and, on the other, to worsening asylum.
- Formulation of a policy and action plan for combating racism, discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes as well as the upsurge of extreme right and neonazi forces in society.
- The promotion of measures to ensure effective public consultation and respect of the role and action of defenders of the rights of migrants and refugees.