The UNHCR Office in Cyprus stands by the government of Cyprus and is ready to contribute to efforts to provide comprehensive protection to refugees arriving to the island, in accordance with the country’s international and European obligations, UNHCR Public Information Officer Emilia Strovolidou has told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).
Furthermore, she noted that the situation as regards the arrival of refugees on the island is manageable, even though their number has risen, adding, at the same time, that vigilance is required as the situation changes constantly.
“A more thorough contingency plan on how to address possible massive arrivals of refugees must be set up,” she added. She noted that UNCHR Cyprus has already drafted such a plan that will be discussed with the government.
Responding to questions by CNA regarding the measures which the government decided to take in a bid to tackle the increased inflow of migrants and refugees, Strovolidou said that “what is most important for us is for the refugees to continue to have access to the country’s territory and to just asylum procedures,” adding that as regards asylum seekers’ and refugees’ reception and integration into society more things must be done.
To this end, Strovolidou added, consultations must take place, with a view to have a comprehensive plan for the reception and integration of these people.
Strovolidou said that UNCHR Cyprus is always in contact with the competent state departments from which they will ask to be informed in more detail about the decisions taken.
She stressed that “any measures that will be taken concerning the refugees who arrive to Cyprus must abide by the international and the European obligations of the Republic of Cyprus for their protection.”
Strovolidou said that the implementation of just, effective and quick procedures for examining asylum seekers’ applications is to everyone’s interest.
Furthermore, she noted that at the European level the only way to address the issue of refugees is through solidarity. “Unilateral measures and efforts to transfer the responsibility of one state to another will not just eliminate this issue,” she said.
Strovolidou said that refugees should be given alternative ways to move to Europe or somewhere else, through resettlement programmes, so that they do not turn to smugglers and traffickers, risking in this way their lives.
She also described the government’s decisions to cut the time asylum seekers need to wait in order to be able to get a job from six months to one, and to expand sectors in which asylum seekers will be employed, as positive.
(Cyprus News Agency)