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Asylum

 

Yesterday, 18 November 2013, the Aliens and Immigration Service (AIS) arrested at the Reception Center of Kofinou the mother of three children who are eight, six and one year old, without even considering that the youngest child is breastfed by his mother. The mother and her three children lived in Asylum Seekers Reception Centre since December 2012, when the father of the child was arrested and detained in Mennogeia Detention Center without a Court Order. After her arrest, the mother was transferred in Aradippou Police Station, where she also was detained, while the three children were kept under the supervision of Social Welfare Services. The two older children of the family are in the Children’s Shelter in Larnaca, while the infant is given to a foster family.

The family came from Afghanistan and belongs to the persecuted religious minority of Sikh. They left Afghanistan because of prosecution in September 2012 and arrived in Cyprus in November 2012, in order to travel to the United Kingdom (UK) to apply for asylum. The brother of the mother is already staying there and he has been recognized as a refugee. The five members of the family were located with counterfeit passports by the AIS in Paphos Airport, before departing for the UK, where is based the largest community of Afghan refugees belonging to the religious minority of Sikh in Europe. It also has to be noted that these persons receive international protection status in almost all Member States of the European Union (EU).

We believe that a large number of refugees avoid applying for asylum in Cyprus for the following reasons:

  1.  Lack of effective remedy for asylum seekers in Cyprus, something that has even been recognized by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), through a recent conviction taken against the Republic of Cyprus; [1]
  2. Limited to unbearable possibility of decent living for these persons and their family members, after the recent amendment of the law regarding the material reception conditions of asylum seekers; [2]
  3. Lack of substantial opportunities for integration and equal participation in society, even for those who have been granted international protection status in Cyprus. [3]

Immediately after locating the family in Paphos Airport, the father was transferred to the Mennogeia Detention Center, while the mother and her three children were released for humanitarian reasons and transferred to the Asylum Seekers Reception Centre in Kofinou. Due to the disruption of their journey and the impossibility of returning back to their homeland, the family finally submitted an application for asylum in Cyprus.

KISA – Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism and Caritas Cyprus are calling for the immediate release of the mother on humanitarian grounds and the suspension of deportation procedures of the family, until the court decision on their application for asylum is taken. Finally, KISA and Caritas Cyprus demand the compliance of the Republic of Cyprus with the recent ruling of the ECHR, through the amendment of national legislation, in order to ensure that asylum seekers will not be deported until the final judgment of the Court and that the appeal to the Supreme Court will immediately guarantee the suspension of the deportation proceedings.

Notes for editors:

[1] KISA – Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism, Press Release – Tuesday, 23 July 2013, “Unanimous decision of the European Court of Human Rights condemns the Republic of Cyprus – Lack of an effective remedy in cases of deportation and detention of asylum seekers and unlawful detention aiming to deportation

[2] KISA – Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism, Press Release – Monday, 22 July 2013, “The public benefits of poverty and misery for asylum seekers and persons with humanitarian protection status in Cyprus

[3]    European Commission – EUROSTAT, August 2012, “Asylum Statistics”, http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php/Asylum_statistics

European Commission – EUROSTAT, Press Release – Tuesday, 18 June 2013, “Asylum decisions in the EU27 – EU member states granted protection to more than 100.000 asylum seekers in 2012”, http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_PUBLIC/3-18062013-AP/EN/3-18062013-AP-EN.PDF